Alcohol and Drug Testing in the Professional Workplace

Alcohol and Drug Testing in the Professional Workplace

For Lloyd’s of London employees and pass-holders, the time is up for drinking alcohol during office hours. The 331-year-old institution in London’s financial district is widely regarded as the last bastion of this boozy culture. Besides Lloyd’s 800+ direct employees, Lloyd’s is where insurers and brokers meet to do business. In fact, the organisation says that, besides their permanent staff, there are approximately 40,000 people who have access to the building.

Two years ago, permanent staff at Lloyd’s were banned from drinking alcohol between the hours of 9am and 5pm, but under this new policy any person considered to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be barred from the building. Anyone breaching the new rule by having an illegal substance in their system will have their security pass confiscated by security guards, and anyone deemed responsible for sexual harassment could receive a life ban.

Why Now?

Lloyd’s of London has decided to act following recent revelations of boorish behaviour and sexual harassment in their workplace. The new Code of Conduct as set out by the insurance giant is due to an out of date culture, with Bloomberg News Agency revealing a wide range of verbal and sexual misconduct claims – many fuelled by the abuse of alcohol. The report by Bloomberg stated that much of the harassment women were experiencing was fuelled in a culture that allowed, and accepted, heavy drinking during working hours; even after most workplaces in London had already banned lunchtime drinks. The report described Lloyd’s of London as an archaic corner in global finance. The drinking culture in the insurance, finance, legal, and accountancy professions in the city has always been well known, but the problem has been compounded by the dramatic rise in drug use.

John Neal, who took over as Lloyd’s boss just over six months ago, said he found the report very distressing. Lloyd’s is aware that banning alcohol won’t completely stop inappropriate behaviour; however, it’s a good start. According to Neal, the new Code of Conduct is part of a larger action plan to improve workplace culture over time.

And today, we’re seeing a greater divide between generations. Young professionals typically avoid alcohol, either because they choose to lead a healthier lifestyle or so they can go to the gym after work.

Should Alcohol and Drug Testing Be Carried out across All Professional Services?

With the new Code of Conduct policy as set out by Lloyd’s of London, the responsibility of policing people entering the building will fall on security guards. That being said, it can be quite difficult to detect a person who has either taken illicit drugs or had an alcoholic drink. An easier method of supporting the new policy would be to introduce both “for cause” and random alcohol and drug testing. Not only does alcohol and drug testing act as a deterrent, simple testing procedures can deliver a result in a short period of time. In addition, pre-employment testing is designed to prevent people with alcohol and drug related problems being accepted into professional services businesses in the first place.

The Benefits of Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing in Professional Services Businesses

The benefits of drug and alcohol testing in the workplace are many. With ‘for cause’, random, and pre-employment alcohol and drug testing, the risk of damaging client relationships and the risk to team members is significantly reduced. In addition, it is vitally important that businesses take care of the health and well-being of their staff. Testing in the workplace not only helps identify those who may be experiencing substance abuse, it also provides the perfect opportunity for businesses to offer help and support. The result is that staff members and the reputation of the business are protected.

Perhaps the real question is this: Is it really possible to have a few drinks at lunchtime then return to your office and produce your best quality work? There may be employees at Lloyds today who would say the answer is yes, but the truth is that most people are aware of the long-term effects of drinking alcohol and drug taking.

Alcohol and the Brain

The consumption of alcohol can cause an individual to lose his/her ability to think and act responsibly. It’s widely known and accepted that many of the body’s organs are affected by alcohol. The brain is affected because alcohol interferes with communication pathways, thus affecting the way the brain works, which not only affects mood and behaviour but makes it difficult for the person to think clearly. Some of the cognitive changes that occur from alcohol consumption include abnormal or confused thinking, loss of inhibitions, and poor decision-making. And while it’s true that recreational consumers of alcohol typically recover from the effects of alcohol without long-term problems, the short-term lack of control often results in personal and legal troubles.

In Conclusion

A safe and productive workplace is an alcohol and drug-free workplace, which means that removing the impact of these substances can only increase productivity and improve the general quality of work and the bottom line. In today’s competitive marketplace it’s imperative that organisations are perceived by stakeholders to be an upstanding employer; a business that’s on top of any negative effect that may be brought about by the misuse of alcohol or drugs.

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