Robert has never been a stellar performer. However, in recent months, staff have noticed some concerning changes regarding Robert’s performance.
He has been more irritable and gets “snappy” when a coworker or manager speaks to him about his work. His attendance is adequate, however he has been taking long lunch breaks and seems agitated when he returns. When he was asked about these extended breaks, he stated that he was meeting with clients. No one is aware of any clients that Robert needs to meet with. One time after he returned from a break, a coworker smelled alcohol on his breath.
Given Robert’s father’s prominent role at the company, Human Resources is concerned about bringing up Robert’s performance issues to management.
Robert doesn’t have the type of job that would be considered “safety-sensitive,” such as a driver, train operator, or a financial trader. However, he oversees and handles sensitive records and company documents. Thus, Robert being under the influence of substances could have an significant impact on the company and their clients.
The Human Resource manager assigned to Robert and his immediate supervisor have met.They have decided to refer Robert to a consultant/clinician who is trained in the areas of substance abuse and workplace performance issues.
They will review with Robert what they have observed and explain that he is expected to be evaluated by an outside consultant. Additionally, the consultant will provide a report to the firm regarding Robert’s fitness to return to work.
The company contacted me for assistance. I agreed to see Robert for a two-part evaluation consisting of a extensive assessment process. After meeting with Robert for a ninety-minute initial meeting and an hour follow-up, I determined that Robert has a substance abuse issue. He also reports long standing struggles with anxiety and depression.
I decided to refer Robert to an outpatient substance abuse program, which has a psychiatrist on staff and can also address his mental health issues.
It is difficult to ascertain the extent of Robert’s mental health concerns until he detoxes, and is abstinent from all mood altering substances.
In next month’s blog post, I will discuss the course of Robert’s treatment, as well as my communication with the company, and their decision regarding Robert’s employment status.
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.