Be The Change: Helping businesses thrive by becoming ‘recovery-friendly’

  • Making your company “recovery-friendly” can make it a more productive workplace and attract more employees. File photo

For the Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/20/2022 9:54:11 AM
Modified: 4/20/2022 9:52:58 AM

If your company is like most, right now you’re struggling to find and keep skilled employees. While there are many reasons for the current shortage, there’s one possible solution you may not have considered: making your company “recovery-friendly.” Recovery Friendly Workplaces is a state-wide initiative instated by Governor Sununu that addresses New Hampshire’s opioid and substance use crisis on two levels. One, it helps people to get and stay substance-free through supportive work environments. Two, it helps employers lower costs associated with substance use-related absenteeism, accidents, and low productivity by supporting skilled workers who have substance use problems. Everybody wins.

In New Hampshire alone, substance use costs businesses more than $1.5 billion a year, primarily through absenteeism and impaired productivity. Meanwhile, employees in recovery perform comparably to their coworkers, so offering them a few budget-friendly supports can save thousands on everything from firing-and-hiring expenses to worker’s compensation premiums. This means that becoming a recovery-friendly employer isn’t just doing a good deed; it’s good for your bottom line.

As a person in recovery myself, I love the RFW initiative on multiple levels. First, it strengthens New Hampshire’s economy. Next, it’s good for people. Finally, it’s a way to “Be the Change”and do something about the drug and alcohol use crisis in New Hampshire that we’re all concerned about, but usually feel helpless to fix. Recovery-friendly workplaces are a practical way to help stem the tide. Working for a recovery-friendly employer makes a huge difference for me. When I need peer support, I can take an hour out of my day, unpaid, to go to an AA meeting or facilitate one on-site. I can tell my boss — who knows I’m grieving the death of a close loved one — when I’m struggling, and I’ll work from home that day. I can do my weekly telehealth therapy call during the work day, then make up that hour some other time during the week. These are just a few possible RFW policies. They don’t cost my employer anything. They don’t disrupt our operations or impact our bottom line. They do, however, enable me to perform at peak level and consistently deliver my highest results to my employer. That’s how easy being a recovery-friendly workplace can be.

Too many capable employees are scared to ask for help with their substance use issues for fear of punitive workplace policies, including termination. They resist going to residential treatment because they can’t afford to miss that time away from work or risk that their job won’t be waiting for them when they return. Supportive policies, such as return-to-work agreements, can give an employee the confidence to get help, and studies show that people who are supported by their workplace recover at higher rates than those supported by friends and family alone. Businesses across the state are realizing the benefits of having employees who are more than just present: they are also well.

If you want to learn more about how to strengthen your large or small New Hampshire business by becoming a Recovery Friendly Workplace, please call 603-532-9888 or email anena@realitychecknow.org. You can find New Hampshire businesses that are part of this initiative at www.recoveryfriendlyworkplaces.com. For a comprehensive list of supports and services, please visit our website at www.realitychecknow.org or stop by our office and say hello at 17 Turnpike Road in Jaffrey.

Anena Hansen is employer services coordinator at Reality Check in Jaffrey.


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