Confronting Alcoholism On The Job
Is It Wrong To Be Right? Confronting Alcoholism On The Job
Confronting Alcoholism at the Workplace
- Identify the relevant stakeholders and what they have to lose or gain based upon Leon’s decision/actions.
Ralph is a good friend to Leon, a relationship that sparked from the first day of Leon’s work. He has, in countless cases, defended Leon when he had no experience and when other employees did not like him. However, Ralph is addicted to alcohol as he can no longer avoid taking it at work. He tends to skip work for a considerable amount of time to go and have drinks in a nearby hotel, as he also carry some to the workplace disguised in soda cans. Therefore, Leon’s decision would affect Ralph in different ways. First, if Leon decides to report the matter, then there is a definite chance that their friendship will be dented. Secondly, Ralph could get fired from his life-long job if Leone decided to report the matter. On the other hand, failing to report to higher authorities also has its own implications. First, Ralph could get himself injured while working with the machines. What is more, Ralph could injure other employees who work with him.
Gary is the plant manager and a good friend to Gary, who have been together for a while now. Since Gary knows the history of Ralph and alcohol, he probably knows his struggle with it. However, Leon’s decision affects the manager of the plant in various ways. If Leone decides to report the matter, it would affect the long-time relationship between Gary and Ralph. Gary would also end up being forced to end Ralph’s job against his own will, which can be a devastating thing to do to a friend. However, if Leone makes the same decision, Gary would benefit since the firm’s operations would remain to be normal and he would avoid several issues that arise due to injury of coworkers and underproduction. On the other hand, if Leon decides not to report the matter, accidents and other implications that comes along with impaired judgement may adversely affect Gary. Gary may have to deal with other cases like injured workers, broken machines, and reduced productivity.
John is the owner of the printing company who was the reason Leon was hired into the company. If Leon would report the matter, John would reduce the chances of incurring a huge amount of losses due to Ralph’s negligence. Otherwise, John would incur a huge loss – especially with the time of the year and with the many customers to satisfy. Leon also promised John that he would not regret hiring him; Leon’s decision will determine the outcome.
- Ralph’s family
As Leon came to find out, Ralph had had a devastating history with his family, mostly on the account of alcohol. Ralph had divorced his wife whom he had a son with that he only saw a few times a year. Leon’s decision would also affect Ralph family in various ways. If Leon decided to report the matter, then Ralph’s family – especially his son – would not hold him in high esteem. On the other hand, if Leon fails to report the matter and injury or even death occurs, Ralph’s family will be adversely affected.
- Human Resource Department
The human resource department is responsible for handling and managing a wide variety of risks. They are concerned with workers’ compensation, workers’ safety, and discipline at the workplace. Leon’s decision would determine which direction the human resource department – and thus the company as a whole – would take. If Leon decides to report the matter, the HR department would benefit a great deal as the company would not lose money. On the other hand, the company would make huge losses due to an otherwise decision – a blame that often falls on the HR department for not providing a safe environment for employees.
- Night-shift Workers
The night shift workers are co-workers to Ralph. Although they may be advantaged with experience, Leon’s decision would affect them either way. First, not reporting puts the night-shift workers on a great risk. When Ralph operates the machine with an impaired judgement, he not only puts himself in danger but he also threaten the welfare of the workers around him – who may get injured or even die as a result of his mistakes. An otherwise decision would actively help to avoid any injuries resulting from negligence and impaired judgement. Therefore, if he decides to report the matter, the night-shift employees who work with Ralph will be safer.
- All employees
The fate of all the employees also directly rely on the decision that Leon would make. Incase Leone fails to report the matter and as a result there is disruption in production, then there will be less work and thus less pay for the employees. What is more, if the damage is as serious as to result in closure of Precise, then all the employees would risk losing their source of employment.
- Dealers with Precise Printing
Since the decision of this matter could directly affect the operation of Precise Printing, other dealers with the same firm could be affected by this same decision. This is because if the printing company fails to deliver goods as expected, then it would directly affect the dealers who would loose a good portion of the market.
- Customers of Precise Printing
Leon’s decision would also affect the customers of Precise Printing who expect a standard printing at least every day. If Leon fails to report the matter, then there is a possibility that Ralph’s impaired judgement can lead to a poorly cut printing papers that would be of low quality to the customers. Moreover, upon the closure of the printing firm, many customers who rely on the same company would be adversely affected.
- Occupational Safety Agents
Occupational safety agents, who are responsible for ensuring that all working conditions are favorable for all the workers, would also be directly affected by the decision of Leon. The agents would be held liable for the losses and injuries that might be caused by Ralph when he is drank. On the other hand, it would be advantageous for the agents to spot and correct a safety threat before it happens.
- What are the main arguments that Leon is trying to counter? In other words, what are the reasons and rationalizations for not saying anything and allowing Ralph’s use of alcohol to continue unabated?
Leon understands that drinking on the job is not only wrong but it is also dangerous, both for Ralph and the other employees. However, he is in a dilemma on whether to report or not to, despite the clear dangers that would suffice if he does not report the same. This is majorly because Leon has a variety of arguments that he tries to use to counter his guilt and need for reporting Ralph to Gary. Leon is torn between allowing Ralph to go on with drinking at the job and helping him and others avoid the risk of injury.
One of the major arguments that Leon uses to counter the need to report Ralph is that Ralph had been his good friend from the firm. From the first day Leon was employed at Precise, he had a difficult time working and coping up with the rest of the experienced employees. However, Ralph supported and defended Leon until he was able to fit in and become experienced at his job. For the same reason, Leon fears loosing a friend who has been in his side since he joined the company. What is more, Leone felt that he did not have the authority and audacity to tell Ralph what to do – having have worked for the compony for only eight months.
Additionally, Leon feels that if he reports the matter to Gary then Ralph would almost inevitably know that he was the one who told Gary. This, he fears would bring a lot of fracas for him at the workplace. First, he fears that the close relationship he has had with Ralph would end and that Ralph would try and turn everyone else in the shop against himself. It would be hard for him to work around when everybody else is against him. Apart from that, Leon knew that Gary would be fired if he reported the matter, a scenario he did not want. Even though Leon knew the consequences of Ralph’s actions, his guilt of losing a friend and making more enemies would not allow him to make the decision easily.
- Looking beyond individual stakeholders, is there anything about the overall company culture that might inhibit or encourage the reporting of Ralph’s alcohol use? If so, what is it and why does it influence reporting? (BE BRIEF! I am only expecting about a paragraph here.)
Beyond individual stakeholders in the scenario, the culture of the company is one major thing that inhibits the reporting of Ralph’s alcohol use at work. It is clear that most of the employees have a culture of drinking and partying every weekend. As they made stories, they recount periods when they drank a lot and partied to the point of being tossed into a drunk tank. Therefore, for them, drinking was no big deal – even at the workplace. As long as an employee did their work and it affected nobody else, they were well ok with the drinking habit. What is more, Leon makes an effort to show them the danger that Ralph poses to the safety of the workplace and they all dismiss him. Even Ralph himself argues that he can never harm anyone else; besides, he will only be hurting himself. This culture of partying and drinking alcohol might be the major inhibitor to the employees reporting Ralph’s drinking of alcohol in the workplace.
- What Giving Voice to Values levers and arguments can Leon use to counter the individual reasons and rationalizations identified above?
As in this case, certain values conflict in the workplace as they face barriers in form of reasons and rationalizations. These obstacles often confound individuals from fulfilling their sense of organizational and personal purpose. In this case, Leon is faced with different kinds of barriers in form of reasons and rationalizations that deter him from reporting the risk that Ralph poses to the whole company. According to this scenario, the major argument that Leon is trying to counter is whether or not to report Ralph who has been drinking alcohol at the workplace – thus posing danger to the rest of the employees and other stakeholders. His major reasons are the friendship between him and Ralph will be destroyed, Ralph might loose his job, and that Ralph might turn everyone else against him.
What is more, he has shared the same sentiment with Ralph himself, who disagrees with him saying that he cannot hurt anyone and that he would only be hurting himself. He has also shared the same with other employees who have also disagreed with him as they see no liability as long as his drinking does not affect them. Considering the circumstances of the situation, it is prudent for Leon to utilize levers and arguments that would influence those who disagree with him. In this way, he would instill values in them that would help them see the dangers of drinking alcohol on the job and thus abate the same (Gentile, 2013).
Various reasons and rationalization fall into four major categories as suggested by Kidder (2005). First, Leon is faced with the dilemma of “truth versus loyalty.” He fears telling the truth due to his loyalty to their friendship. Leone could use the argument that Ralph is not being loyal to their friendship since he does not want to change his ways even when Leon has talked to him concerning the same. Therefore, Leon should choose truth.
Secondly, the stakeholders involved in this case is quite enormous – most of whom are affected negatively if he fails to report the matter. Therefore, Leone is also battling with the dilemma of “individual versus community.” With the many individuals and circumstances at stake in this case, it is eminent for Leon to choose the larger group that will be affected. Even if everyone looks at drinking like a standard practice and a norm, thinking in the long run would aid in making a decision. In the long run, the drinking habit can lead to every employee losing their jobs.
Leon could also position himself as an agent of continuous improvement instead of a source of complaint – thus discouraging certain cultures and maximizing performance (Chappell, Edwards and Webb, 2013). Additionally, pointing out addictive cycles that would cause major risks for the employees and the company at large – such as drinking – is also effective as it would showcase how it would lead to more and more conflict in values.
- What Giving Voice to Values levers and arguments can Leon use to argue that a change to a more safety oriented culture is needed?
First, Leon could argue to each potentially affected party of the possible costs of not having a safe working environment – which is often effective as Gentile (2013) substantiates. Starting with the company itself, each stakeholder would analyze the cost of their side and consider whether to keep the culture or upgrade to a safer working environment. Advocating for this argument would also enable the employees see both the risks of getting injured and perhaps dying and the possibility of loosing their jobs due to a single culture.
Leon could also voice the value of having a safety oriented culture by arguing the situation in terms of the company’s wider purpose (Lawton and Páez, 2015). The company and other stakeholders should be convinced to consider the behaviors that have enabled them to reach to a wide range of market and to deliver quality products to the clients. Once the stakeholders understands that maintaining the same is quite difficult if the workplace is not safe, then they can easily be convinced to align the incentives of the firm and ensure a safe environment for its employees.
Thinking in the long run instead of only in the short term would also play a major role in advocating for a safer working environment. Since most individuals see no effect at the moment, Leone could argue for them to analyze the long run effects of allowing for alcohol in the workplace. Since it is a culture in the firm, arguing that continuous uncontrolled use of the same would lead to addiction – which causes more risks to more and more stakeholders.
- What would be an appropriate employer response to Ralph’s intoxication at work? Take into account his individual situation, his personal circumstances, and his work history when answering.
The cost of alcoholism and alcohol abuse in the workplace manifest itself in various diverse ways. From being absent to on-the-job accidents and injuries, alcoholism significantly affects an employee’s performance in the workplace (Ghodse, 2017). It should, therefore, be addressed in the most prudent and appropriate way possible. In the case of Ralph, the employer could respond in various ways to help the employee.
The employer could respond using employee assistance programs such as counseling, assessments, emotional and mental health, as well as marital and family problems (Kumar and Francis, 2018). A counselor would meet with the employee and assess and diagnose their major problem and refer the employee to treatment if possible. The employer could also liaise with the HR – who are responsible for managing appropriate adverse, disciplinary, and other administrative actions – to give advice as to how to deal with the same case.
Another prudent response is to confront the employee as an employer while dealing with the employee performance, conducts, and misconduct at the workplace (Kumar and Francis, 2018). This also helps set things clear at the workplace and letting the employees know the stand of the employer concerning drug and substance abuse at the job. Before confronting, the employer should gather performance and conduct problems and present them to the employee – thus being specific of what is noted and how it is affecting the company. A good employer also offers chances for the employee to change while referring them to employee assistance programs.
- What would an appropriate policy-level (not individual) response to this situation be? Put another way, should this employer have a substance abuse policy and if so, what should it be?
Dealing with alcohol and substance abuse at the workplace can be specifically sensitive, especially in this scenario where the employees have a culture of drinking and partying together. A substance abuse culture in the workplace would insinuate a higher cost of business through damage to equipment, injuries, poor decisions, sick leave, and employee turnover. With the immense support and a culture of drinking that the employees have, it is prudent for the company to adopt a substance abuse policy that will regulate the employees’ use of alcohol and other substances at the workplace. The employer could have a written substance abuse policy in the workplace. There are virtually two types of policies that can be adopted in this scenario; one indicating that the employer would not tolerate drug and substance abuse in the workplace as well as one that provides for drug testing. The policy chose should include:
- Unacceptability of drug and substance abuse in the workplace.
- Rules regarding substance abuse outside the workplace (it is prudent to select a level of alcohol usage that would allow the employees to report to work the following day).
- Policy on use of drugs in company non-work activities such as parties.
- Consequences of an employee if found to be actively engaged with substance abuse at the workplace.
- Availability of treatment and rehabilitation
- Recording keeping that ensure confidentiality of results.
These policies will help guide the firm in drug and substance abuse, allowing for use of not more than a certain amount of alcohol only in non-working hours. This will ensure that every employee is sober enough to make good decisions in the workplace and that they do not fall sick due to the same.
Chappell, S., Edwards, M. G., & Webb, D. (2013). Sustaining Voices: Applying Giving Voice to Values to Sustainability Issues. Journal of Business Ethics Education, 10, 211-230.
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Gentile, M. C. (2013). Giving voice to values (pp. 1218-1221). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
Ghodse, H. (2017). Drugs and alcohol in the workplace. In Addiction at work (pp. 21-28). Routledge.
Kidder, R. M. (2005). Moral Courage: Taking Action When Your Values Are Put To the Test (New York: William Morrow, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc). p.89
Kumar, J. V., & Francis, R. D. A. (2018). The Causes, Consequences, Types of Alcoholism and Role of Supervisor for Alcoholic Labourers in Workplace–An Overview. Research Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 9(1), 35-39.
Lawton, A., & Páez, I. (2015). Developing a framework for ethical leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 130(3), 639-649.