Stress and isolation are known drivers of substance abuse. Unfortunately, they’re also well-documented effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, which has stranded people at home for weeks on end and sent unemployment claims soaring. However, as stay-at-home mandates begin to ease and employers assemble their return-to-work plans, they need a candidate and employee returning to work strategy in place to help address fast-changing, post-pandemic hiring conditions.
Substance abuse amid a global pandemic
Under normal circumstances, the impact of substance abuse in the workplace is staggering as it can affect everything from absenteeism and tardiness rates, productivity, workplace safety and morale, employee turnover rates and even health insurance rates. Yet, the numbers may be increasing, as factors known to trigger or exacerbate substance abuse—isolation and stress—have been compounding since the onset of the COVID-19 global health crisis.
Since March, nearly all Americans have been isolated at home under sustained stay-at-home orders, and about half of all employed adults are also working from home due to COVID-19, according to a Brookings article. Likewise, first-time unemployment claims hit more than 30 million in just six weeks, as droves of employees were either furloughed or laid off, causing untold stress on their pocketbooks, households and relationships.
At the same time, recent numbers reflect surges in marijuana and alcohol sales:
- Cannabis e-commerce platform Jane Technologies reported in March that:
- Average store revenue is up 52 percent compared with sales in January 2020.
- New online buyers have increased 142 percent.
- Cannabis analytics firm Headset reports beverage and edible sales are up significantly in California.
- Wholesale cannabis marketplace LeafLink reported a 48 percent spike in orders in just one week.
- Cannabis demand has surged in Florida according to MKM Partners Research, citing an average 36 percent increase in THC product.
- S. sales of alcoholic beverages rose 55 percent in the week ending March 21, according to market research firm Nielsen.
Source: Current Consulting Group/Current Compliance April 2020 Webinar
Return to work, quickly and safely
To help employers mitigate the risk of increased substance abuse and safely ramp up business following this unprecedented health crisis, First Advantage is offering a fast, easy-to-use “virtual” drug screening option that can be used with new candidates or existing employees who are returning to work. It’s performed by a simple mouth swab collection and reading that can be conducted over video chat, which speeds up testing by eliminating delays that come with lab scheduling and travel time.
This screening test only takes about two minutes to complete and the results can be reviewed live via video conference. The results will indicate use of the following drugs:
If this screening test is negative, no further confirmatory testing is required.
As businesses move to reopen and return to normal operations, this innovative tool can help ensure their candidates and returning employees are drug-free and ready to work. At First Advantage, we’re here to help with all your candidate and employee drug screening and background screening needs during this unique time. Get in touch today to learn more.