An Alcohol or other Drugs (AOD) policy at the workplace in the Netherlands. Barriers and solutions
An AOD policy provides opportunities for enhancing the safety, health and well-being of employees. However, setting-up and implementing an AOD policy can be challenging for employers. They may have a lack of knowledge about risks and costs, and worry about resistance from employees and interfering with private matters. An AOD policy can help finding solutions to these challenges. However, AOD policies are not widely implemented and insights into how to develop and promote a supported AOD policy are highly needed.
We conducted a literature search and a series of online questionnaires and interview studies (2020 and 2021) among different stakeholders, such as employers, (HR-)managers, employees and occupational physicians. An AOD policy is generally regarded as very acceptable and valuable to organisations. All stakeholders see opportunities to fulfil a role in developing and implementing an AOD policy. The policy must offer clarity about rules, prevention, support, enforcement and sanctions. Early involvement of employers and employee-representatives is a crucial component of successful implementation. A good AOD policy should be customised to the characteristics of the workforce and the needs and risk factors within the organisation. Implementation is facilitated when an AOD policy is embedded within a wider health policy and when organisations communicate from a principle of improving health and well-being, rather than sanctions.
These studies show how the implementation of an AOD policy can be improved. There are opportunities for professionals in the prevention field to support and assist organisations with the development and implementation of AOD policies.