Q. We have a diverse work group of about 50 employees, and it seems clear to me that everyone gets along well. I never get complaints, and I witness no inappropriate interactions. Is diversity awareness education or training still needed?
A. Diversity and inclusiveness awareness can be suitable for any workgroup, not necessarily because of existing problems but to reinforce and strengthen a positive work culture that already exists. It can also help employees better understand implicit bias and how our own biases can lead to misunderstandings with others. Although you perceive a high-functioning and inclusive workgroup, you can never be sure that covert, unspoken, or unacknowledged biases exist and that they have been felt. Diversity awareness plays an intervening role in averting potential problems. Also, if you have 50 employees, turnover is a natural part of the organizational process, and this alone could support a rationale for ongoing education.
Q. One of my employees went away to a treatment facility for meth abuse treatment. He self-referred to that facility and seems to be doing great. I am nervous because he socializes with employees after hours and drinks alcohol with them. Can meth users drink alcohol safely?
A. Your employee may be abstinent from meth use, and his occupational and social functioning may be dramatically improved, but alcohol use following treatment for meth addiction would be contrary to the position of nearly all medical doctors who are experts on addiction and its treatment. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction treatment requires "engagement in recovery activities." Recovery means abstinence from psychoactive drug use, which includes alcohol, in order to avoid relapse to the drug of choice. Your job, of course, is monitoring performance and not focusing on the employee's personal decisions outside work, no matter how ill-advised they may seem. Relapse and its effect on performance may be evident in a week, a year, or more. If or when that time comes, refer the employee to Personal Assistance Service.
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