It's often difficult and uncomfortable to intervene when you suspect an employee is impaired. It is helpful if supervisors know what to look for and how to proceed when you suspect an employee is impaired. We want to be helpful and not jump to conclusions. Common worries include:
- Mentioning our concerns could damage the relationship.
- We assume we know what the problem is.
Your Concerns are Valid
Support and information on how to talk to employees who may be impaired helps us break through those concerns and proceed with confidence to handle these situations in a responsible and sensitive way. Causes of impairment can include:
- Alcohol and drugs
- Medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, etc.)
- Personal problems (e.g., domestic violence and/or grief issues)
- Emotional problems (e.g., stress-related difficulties and depression/anxiety)
- Family problems (e.g., aging parents or child-related difficulties)
Important Steps to Follow
- Observe work performance or behavior problems that might be signs of impairment.
- Confirm when possible. Get a second supervisor to confirm that they also see these signs of impairment.
- Document your observations of the behavior/performance and use that to guide your discussion with the employee.
- Consult with PAS about options for helping the employee.
- Confront the employee in private where you can discuss what you observed about his/her behavior or performance.
- Take the next step. Follow the recommendations made by PAS. If a fitness-for-duty evaluation is suggested, contact EOHW at 919-684-3136 and arrange for the employee to be escorted to their offices.
- Schedule a follow-up meeting. At a follow-up meeting, you and your employee can review progress that has been made with the behavior and/or performance problem.
Remember...you don't have to determine the source of impairment or diagnose the problem.
PAS is always available to:
- Provide supportive consultation in this situation or any other supervisor/supervisee situations
- Help impaired employees with their problem situation whatever that might be
- Provide training to employees, supervisors, and groups about PAS services and various mental health topics, including Drugs in the Workplace. We can also assist departments in managing crises or losses which have occurred. To request a presentation or training, call PAS.