By Brad Lindemann
A company that is In Business For Life nurtures the dignity of all people, starting with its own people.
Because we had a history of trust and transparency with one another, he asked if I would advocate for him with one of our best clients. I gladly did and the client gladly gave him the opportunity he was seeking. That was many years ago and he’s been gainfully employed ever since.
Speaking of addictions, this is a problem that impacts every employer of almost any size. Substance abuse is rampant in our country. From alcohol to illegal drugs to illegal use of prescription drugs, increasing numbers of Americans are coming to work in a self-induced fog that renders them marginally effective and poses great risks to their employers. And, these problems are not limited to those in the lower economic strata. Billionaire Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay, was arrested in 2014 for illegal use and possession of prescription drugs. Just weeks before, a female friend of Mr. Irsay’s died of a drug overdose in a condo he had purchased for her. Similar tragic tales are playing out in the lives of employees every day, leaving employers with the challenge of how to handle such difficult situations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 60 percent of the drug overdose deaths in 2010 involved pharmaceutical drugs. This steadily-rising number should send shivers up the spine of employers and employees alike. It’s truly hard to believe that more people die every year from prescription drug overdoses (primarily pain-killers) than from hellish illegal drugs like heroin and crystal meth.
This one hits painfully close to home. Several of our children have battled Opioid and Benzodiazepine addictions, while chronic back pain has forced Elaine to use pain-killers far more often than she’d like to. That’s why I often pause and pray whenever I hear the current PSA on the radio stating that someone in the United States dies every 20 minutes from a prescription drug overdose. But for the grace of God, there go one of my own.
During our early years, we encouraged each employee to have a Personal and Professional Development Plan (PPDP). It was a sincere effort to meld each employee’s personal goals with those of the firm. And occasionally, it was the means by which we identified the impossibility of doing so. Such was the case with Dave Burns, our original People First Director.
Dave did an outstanding job handling the HR function at Ambassador Solutions during the week. But on weekends, he traveled throughout the Midwest as a track announcer on the American Speed Association (ASA) circuit. While going through the PPDP process himself, Dave realized that motorsports was his true passion. So, he sold all of his personal belongings that wouldn’t fit into his tiny new apartment in Charlotte where he moved to be near NASCAR’s headquarters. Today, Dave covers NASCAR as a pit reporter for ESPN. Though we lost a great employee in the exchange, Dave Burns is proof positive that the PPDP process worked quite well.
 “Opioids drive continued increase in drug overdose deaths,” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 20, 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/p0220_drug_overdose_deaths.html.
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