Elf: one too many Christmas spirits

With Christmas just around the corner, my family and I have begun our yearly ritual of re-watching our favorite holiday films. At the top of the list is a relatively newer addition, Elf.  The comedy stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human who crawls into Santa’s sack and ends up being raised by Papa Elf at the North Pole. After learning that he is actually human rather than an elf, Buddy decides to travel to New York to find his biological father, who works at a children’s book company and happens to be on the Naughty List. Much of the film’s comedy and charm comes from Buddy’s child-like innocence and genuine holiday cheer as he tries to navigate the cynical world of New York City. shutterstock_236981068At his father’s office, this same innocence leads Buddy to mistake a mail room worker’s whiskey for delicious maple syrup. As you can imagine, a six-foot tall elf can cause quite a ruckus in the workplace after having too many spirits.

Employers are well aware that illicit drug use and alcohol abuse can be costly in the workplace. Drug-free workplace programs can be powerful tools in spreading prevention messages and intervening early with those who have already begun to use drugs. For many individuals, especially those who may deny that their use of drugs is problematic, workplace-based programs can be a critical step along the road to treatment and recovery. Every workplace is different, and drug-free workplace programs should be tailored to match a company’s individual needs. Here are some general recommendations for such programs:

  • Have a written drug-free workplace policy explaining why the policy was enacted and providing a clear description of prohibited behaviors as well as an explanation of the consequences for violating the policy.
  • Train supervisors to understand the policy and recognize employees with performance issues that may be related to substance abuse.  Training also should explain how to refer employees for professional help.
  • Implement employee education programs providing information on the policy, how to comply with the policy, the consequences for violations, and general information about the dangers of substance abuse.
  • Have an employee assistance program to help prevent, identify, and resolve issues relating to substance abuse.
  • Implement drug testing to deter and detect drug use and to provide concrete evidence for intervention.

Luckily for Buddy, he manages to escape his inadvertent workplace drunkenness relatively unscathed and is free to return to his true vice–sugar, sugar, and more sugar. Feel free to share your holiday traditions, cautionary tales of workplace spirits, and also your thoughts on the new animated Elf special starring another one of my favorites, the talented Jim Parsons. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to our readers.