AHP Helps MassHire Holyoke Advance “Recovery Ready” Workplaces

AHP has been working collaboratively to advance a “Recovery Ready Workplace” initiative in Holyoke, Massachusetts. AHP was engaged by MassHire Holyoke, one in a network of career centers in Massachusetts, to help educate local employers and motivate them to join this important initiative. AHP has a long history of offering technical assistance, training, and program management focused on substance use disorder (SUD) prevention, treatment, and recovery, and our staff work with the belief that employment is vital to sustained addiction recovery and that recovery is possible for everyone.
SUDs, such as opioid or alcohol use disorder, cost the United States billions of dollars per year in health care, criminal justice services, and lost work and productivity. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 15 million people with SUDs in the United States are employed. Thus, the American workforce and workplaces are highly impacted by the effects of SUDs.

One key answer to the question of how to reduce the negative impact of SUDs on businesses is for them to become Recovery Ready Workplaces. Advancing Recovery Ready Workplaces is also a national priority of the Biden administration.
A Recovery Ready Workplace is one that

  • Acknowledges and openly addresses the topic of drug and alcohol misuse,
  • Educates employees and customers about SUDs and about treatment resources and options, and
  • Offers human resources policies and practices to support employees who are in recovery from SUDs.

Given MassHire Holyoke’s understanding of the negative impact of SUDs on employment and the workplace, it hired AHP to strategize with its staff on how to bring local employers into the Recovery Ready Workplace initiative.
To help MassHire inform employers about what it takes to become a Recovery Ready Workplace, show them why the initiative is beneficial to employers and employees alike, and teach them how to become Recovery Ready, AHP created fact sheets, brochures, information sheets, marketing materials, and tools. The products offer details such as

  • What policies need to be put in place;
  • How to orient employees;
  • Ways that addiction impacts businesses;
  • Why supporting recovery is good for business;
  • How being a Recovery Ready Workplace increases employee retention, reduces absences, and improves productivity; and
  • How to create a Recovery Ready Workplace culture, including
    • Flexible hiring requirements—reconsidering policies on criminal background checks and gaps in employment;
    • Flexible schedules—adjusting work hours to allow people to attend important; treatment appointments and support meetings to maintain their recovery
    • Non-punitive or “open-door” policy for employees seeking help with SUDs;
    • Benefits geared toward recovery—generous coverage for SUD treatment or an employee assistance program (EAP); and
    • A culture of recovery—an environment focused on health and wellness, not “happy hour” or after-work drinks.
AHP will continue to work with MassHire Holyoke on Phase 2 of the initiative, which involves continuing to get local employers on board, developing an implementation plan, and providing training to MassHire Holyoke staff on how to do this work on an ongoing basis with area employers. Through its progressive work in helping build Recovery Ready Workplaces throughout the community, MassHire Holyoke has demonstrated a commitment to recovery, local businesses’ success, and the recovery community.

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