Corporate Leaders Speak Out On Addiction
Every now and then, we’ll run across an addition story in an unlikely place. This month, it happened to be in the pages of Fortune. The famed money mag addressed issues like the opioid crisis on a very different level. Namely, their impact on Corporate America.
In an article written by Nationwide CEO Kirt Walker, topics came up about corporate compassion, economics and the importance of getting involved. Seeing how finance plays such a big role in Fortune, it was not surprising to see the piece lead off with some hard figures. For one thing, Walker called out that the overall cost of America’s opioid crisis has reached as much as $180 billion each year. Breaking that down even further, Walker pointed to $73 billion in mortality costs, $60 billion in health care costs and $26 billion in lost productivity.
Zeroing in on the productivity issues, Walker urged his fellow CEOs to have their companies get involved early. His recommendation was to take immediate action with employees who may be struggling.
“Now is the time for business leaders to stand up and take an active role in addressing this epidemic,” Walker wrote. “By joining forces with public health officials, elected leaders, and law enforcement, businesses can help enhance locally-tailored solutions in communities across the country. Simply put, addiction is a workforce issue. If business leaders can intervene and get people the help they need while keeping them employed, it could make a huge difference in their recovery.”
Walker then brought up one other important point. Helping employees is good for business. As he put it, those who have the support of their firm will ultimately come back more loyal and more productive after conquering their addictions.
He also highlighted the fact that addiction is a disease, which is a mindset that business leaders need to embrace. Currently, many companies enforce a zero tolerance policy and do not give employees a second chance after finding out they have a problem. Walker disagrees with that notion, emphasizing that it is actually more costly to replace good people versus giving the existing ones help.
Prevention was the other big point addressed in the article. Walker explained that not enough addiction education is happening within corporations. Many would rather choose to ignore talking about the crisis instead of informing employees about its true dangers and the ability to get help.
We, for one, applaud Kirt Walker’s heartfelt letter to Fortune and encourage our followers to read it in full.