What Does it Mean when One of Your Employees Begins to Withdraw from Their Environment?

Whether or not your employee is outgoing or introverted, if they begin to withdraw from their environment, it could mean that they are abusing alcohol or drugs. Does this occur in every situation? Not necessarily, but withdrawing can also signal depression or anxiety or feelings of hopelessness. It is important to recognise these signs before they become an issue in the workplace.

What are some withdrawal symptoms to watch out for?

  • Moodiness or brooding behavior. This can exhibit as prolonged thoughtfulness, passive aggressive behavior, lethargy or apathy.
  • Sudden quietness or silence. Even introverted employees talk occasionally, but sudden blanket silence can indicate withdrawal from their surroundings.
  • Separation from others. This can exhibit as eating alone, working alone, declining all invitations to commune with co-workers, not forming long-term bonds with co-workers, or not participating in group discussions or activities. This can also exhibit as showing up early to work or staying late at the office, both of which involve plenty of alone time.
  • Isolation language. Someone displaying somewhat severe social withdrawal will cease to use personal identification statements, such as “I think,” or “I believe.” They will be more likely to use gender neutral, third person forms of discourse, thus distancing themselves from any situation or “verbal” human contact.
  • Seeming tiredness or apathy. Hopelessness and specific types of drug abuse exhibit as constant weariness and physical listlessness. Increasingly slow productivity and excuses for absence from the job are more measurable forms of apathy.

These symptoms are, of course, more relevant if your employee has used differing behavior in the past. If this is their standard behavior from the beginning of employment, they may have anti-social characteristics which developed during their childhood.[1]

Testing your employees for drugs and alcohol can help to eliminate anti-social behavior and substance abuse in the work environment. This is especially important because employees who are abusing are much more motivated to stop when regular testing is incorporated in the business. In a study concerning anti-social drug abusers, it was determined that testing and treatment not only improved the level of drug use, but that it also had a strong, positive effect upon the level of anti-social behavior.[2]

Not only may employees who withdraw from their environment be abusing substances, but their behavior may have a negative or depressing effect upon their co-workers. This means that not only is their own behavior slowing down production and service, but it is affecting the efficiency of others as well. Regular testing and evaluation can significantly improve your staffs’ sense of wellbeing as a whole, and not simply individual employees.

1. Robins, Lee . “Psychological Medicine.” Cambridge Journals. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. www.journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=5034292.

2. “ScienceDirect – Drug and Alcohol Dependence : Preliminary evidence of good treatment response in antisocial drug abusers1.” ScienceDirect – Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T63-3T11V9T-8&_user=10&_coverDate=02%2F01%2F1998&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1606594888&_rerunOrigin=scholar.google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=e5f506698c27ae2af1a3061ceac10113&searchtype=a

Tags: , , ,