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The Effects of Workplace Policies, Climate, and Stressors on Drug and Alcohol Attitudes and Behaviors

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Project Summary:

Empirical evidence on the factors that affect the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace, or outside of work as a result of the work environment, is minimal. Four conceptual frameworks have been suggested for the conduct of research on these issues: work place culture, social control, alienation, and occupational stress. According to these conceptualizations, variables that might be predictive of use include workplace norms surrounding alcohol and drugs, the level of workplace constraints in place to control usage, degree of powerlessness and alienation experienced at work, and high levels of workplace stressors. This research will test these four conceptual stances. In particular, we will first investigate the role of two workplace policies, mandatory drug testing and employee monitoring (social control hypothesis) on employees’ sense of alienation and job insecurity (alienation hypothesis). Second, we will investigate whether these two sets of factors influence perceived job stressors (stress hypothesis) and the acceptance (personal and normative) of alcohol and drug use on and off the worksite (workplace culture hypothesis). Third, we will assess whether workplace policies and alienation/insecurity have direct or mediated effects on a variety of worker outcomes, including actual usage of alcohol and drugs. Finally, we will investigate whether the relationships between the independent variables and the outcomes are moderated by external (social support, work-family conflict) and internal (positive affectivity, negative affectivity, self-esteem, coping) resources. By addressing all of these factors in our conceptual model, we will be able to assess their relative importance in explaining employee outcomes. The conceptual models will be tested using a three-phase study. During Phase 1, a mailed survey of local union leaders from the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the union representing many of the customer service representatives in the telecommunications industry, will be conducted. During Phase 2, eight case studies of individual work sites, identified from the Phase 1 survey, will be completed (two with job monitoring and drug testing, two with monitoring only, two with drug testing only, and two with neither). During Phase 3, mailed surveys will be conducted of the union members from the 8 case study sites. For this research, there are three sets of objectives that correspond with different phases of the study. The first set of objectives focuses on determining the prevalence of restrictive policies within the telecommunications industry. These objectives are: (1) to assess the prevalence of electronic and management-based monitoring policies; (2) to assess the prevalence of mandatory drug testing policies; and (3) to examine the relationship between use of monitoring policies and mandatory drug testing. The second set of objectives will focus on understanding the organizational climate created when drug testing and employee monitoring are or are not in place. The objectives are: (1) to assess the differences in how management, workers, and union representatives describe the work environment; and (2) to assess which factors in the work environment might be most critical to investigate in a quantitative study. In the third phase, we will assess the utility of the four conceptual frameworks in explaining employee outcomes – including onsite and offsite alcohol and drug use. The objectives are: (1) to explore the relative importance of the four conceptual stances on employee outcomes; (2) to explore the moderating effects of external and internal resource variables on employee outcomes.

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