A business reputation is built on many factors that include employee relations, financial performance, community relationships, product quality, and so on. It is also tied to the perception of the company as ethical. For this reason, a news headline reading, “Business Raided for Synthetic Drugs” or “10 Warehouse Employees Arrested for Illicit Substances” creates a negative image of the company, and that impacts the reputation and brand success.
Most articles on company reputation point to the importance of having good community and employee relations, and high quality products and customer service. However, one bad headline and years of effort building a solid reputation can be ruined. When a business is unexpectedly raided for drug activity, the employer is initially held responsible in the eyes of the public for what has taken place on business property. It does not matter if the employer knew of the drug problem or not because the management will be held responsible for a lapse. Yet, the damage to the business reputation can be minimised if the employer can prove that all reasonable steps had been taken to keep drugs out of the workplace.
Big Difference Between Planning and Doing
For example, compare an employer who responds to publicly recognised problems concerning workplace drug and alcohol use with, “Our company was planning on implementing drug and alcohol policy and procedures very soon,” to “The company has a rigorous drug and alcohol policy and requires employees to attend training sessions. We also conduct a random substance testing program.” A business that has made every effort to fulfill its duties to keep a workplace safe will not see its reputation harmed by one negative event. On the other hand, a company that cannot show evidence of a drug and alcohol policy and testing program will probably earn a community reputation as a drug culture and thus an unethical culture.
One thing managers need to understand is that people involved in drug dealing and drug use have their own culture, and within that culture they talk to each other. Word travels fast. Employers who do not conduct pre-employment drug and alcohol testing, do not have a related policy and procedure, and have a reputation for ignoring signs that drugs are in the workplace are contributing to a business culture that is tolerant of substance abuse and will attract people who have trouble passing drug tests or are looking for a cover for selling illicit drugs. The Australian Drug Foundation recognises the negative impacts substance abuse can have on staff, operations, and reputation, which is why it offers workplace services that include risk assessment, accreditation-style evaluation of hospitality event best practices, policy development, and staff awareness and information sessions.1
Nameless for a Reason
It was just recently that the Mackay police raided a city business suspected of manufacturing, selling and/or using synthetic drugs. The business was not immediately named for a good reason. First, the police must prove the raid was legal and justified. However, the second reason is related to business reputation. Naming the business will immediately damage its reputation, whether or not the accusations are true. The police and the news source do not want to harm the reputation of a legitimate business that was caught up in the thriving synthetic drug industry. If the company really was manufacturing synthetic drugs, its reputation is of no consequence because it will be shut down.2
The business reputation is the lifeblood of success. A company may have the best products and offer quality customer service, but that is not what people will be talking about if a problem with workplace drugs and alcohol surfaces. Every business needs a drug and alcohol policy and a testing program supported by the highest quality equipment like that provided by CMM Technology (cmm.com.au).
1. Corporations – Workplace Services. (2010). Retrieved from Australian Drug Foundation: http://www.adf.org.au/workplace-services/corporations.
2. lain Curry. (2013, June 4). Police Raid Mackay business in search of synthetic drugs. Retrieved from Daily Mercury: http://www.dailymercury.com.au/news/synthetic-drugs-found-at-business/1893115/