One-half of U.S. employers conduct drug tests on final candidates: SHRM

Firms say testing improves productivity, reduces absenteeism
||Last Updated: 09/09/2011

More than one-half of employers (57 per cent) in the United States conduct drug tests on all job candidates, according to a poll by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Most employers who use tests on job candidates have done so for seven years or more (69 per cent), and 12 per cent have used them for five to six years, found the survey of 1,058 HR professionals.

“Among the organizations using these testing programs, the tendency is to continue the use of them over relatively long periods of time,” said Mark Schmit, director of research at SHRM. “In addition, organizations are reporting positive impacts related to drug and alcohol testing that supports the efficacy of these programs."

Some employers noticed an impact on employee productivity, absenteeism and workers compensation incidence rates after implementing drug testing programs:

•One-fifth of organizations (19 per cent) reported seeing an improvement in productivity.

•Four per cent of employers said they had high absenteeism rates (more than 15 per cent) after implementing drug testing programs compared to nine per cent before beginning programs, a decrease of more than 50 per cent.

•Six per cent of organizations saw workers’ compensation incidence rates of more than six per cent after implementing programs compared to 14 per cent before starting drug testing programs, a decrease of more than 50 per cent.

•For employers with drug testing programs, 16 per cent reported a decrease in employee turnover rates, while eight per cent reported an increase, after the implementation of a drug testing program.

When employers do post-employment drug tests, the most common tests are post-accident testing (51 per cent), random testing (47 per cent) and reasonable suspicion testing (35 per cent).

“Cost, logistics and consideration for candidates influence when drug tests are given,” said Richard Jordan, a member of SHRM's staffing and talent management expertise panel. "If used, it's typically at the pre- or post-offer stages as part of the pre-employment verification process, depending on each organization's policy and standard procedures."

Only 29 per cent of survey respondents said they do not conduct drug tests on any job candidates.

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