How to han­dle em­ployee who drinks

Boston Herald - - CAREERS -

One of my em­ploy­ees has ad­mit­ted to hav­ing a drink­ing prob­lem. “Jerry” knows our busi­ness well and gets along with ev­ery­one, but he has a lot of ab­sences. His ex­cuses run the gamut, from com­ing down with the flu to hav­ing a sick pet. How­ever, I sus­pect that he is ei­ther drink­ing or hung over.

While I would pre­fer not to re­place Jerry, I will have to let him go if this pat­tern con­tin­ues. Al­though he has ac­knowl­edged his dif­fi­cul­ties with al­co­hol, he has ap­par­ently never sought any type of treat­ment. As Jerry’s man­ager, can I do any­thing to en­cour­age him to get help?

Jerry may in­deed be an al­co­holic, but you can’t be­come his sub­stance abuse coun­selor. Nor should you en­able him by over­look­ing ab­sences or ac­cept­ing weak ex­cuses. As his boss, how­ever, you can def­i­nitely pro­vide valu­able as­sis­tance by high­light­ing his per­for­mance prob­lems and point­ing him in the di­rec­tion of pro­fes­sional help.

If your com­pany has an em­ployee as­sis­tance pro­gram, talk with one of the coun­selors be­fore meet­ing with Jerry. But if not, re­search treat­ment op­tions un­til you iden­tify a rep­utable and re­spected sub­stance abuse pro­gram in your com­mu­nity.

Dur­ing your dis­cus­sion, ex­plain how Jerry’s fre­quent ab­sences are jeop­ar­diz­ing his con­tin­ued em­ploy­ment. You can de­liver this mes­sage through your com­pany’s dis­ci­plinary pol­icy, just as you would with any other poorly per­form­ing em­ployee. Then, since he has vol­un­tar­ily dis­closed his drink­ing prob­lem, you can sug­gest seek­ing help from a qual­i­fied pro­fes­sional.

For ex­am­ple: “Jerry, al­though you do good work when you’re here, your fre­quent ab­sences cre­ate prob­lems for the busi­ness. That’s why I’m giv­ing you an of­fi­cial dis­ci­plinary warn­ing. Be­cause you have pre­vi­ously men­tioned a drink­ing prob­lem, I’m also giv­ing you the num­ber of a treat­ment pro­gram. How­ever, mak­ing that con­tact is strictly up to you. Your con­tin­ued em­ploy­ment will de­pend only on your job per­for­mance and at­ten­dance record. If noth­ing changes, I will have to take the next dis­ci­plinary step.”

Ex­plain that you value Jerry as an em­ployee and want him to suc­ceed, but em­pha­size that he is go­ing to lose his job if the at­ten­dance prob­lem is not cor­rected. Fear of be­ing fired is some­times the only thing that will get an al­co­holic’s at­ten­tion.

After I com­plained to “Me­gan” about some peo­ple in our depart­ment, she ap­par­ently went and told them ex­actly what I said. I have also learned that she lied to me about cer­tain is­sues re­lated to our work. I used to trust Me­gan and have even loaned her money, but now I feel be­trayed. How should I con­front her about this?

In­stead of con­tin­u­ing this dis­rup­tive soap opera, you need to con­cen­trate on avoid­ing sim­i­lar prob­lems in the fu­ture. To­ward that end, here are a few sim­ple guide­lines.

Never talk badly about one co-worker to an­other. As­sume that any­thing you say is likely to be re­peated. As a gen­eral rule, avoid lend­ing money to peo­ple at work. Try to be pleas­ant and help­ful to ev­ery­one, even those you don’t par­tic­u­larly like.

But if these rules strike you as overly re­stric­tive, you may have an un­for­tu­nate ad­dic­tion to work­place drama.

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