Drugs and other taboo topics: How to have honest yet difficult professional conversations with co-workers or staff

Drugs and other taboo topics: How to have honest yet difficult professional conversations with co-workers or staff

Drugs and other taboo topics: How to have honest yet difficult professional conversations with co-workers or staff

For organisational leaders and HR professionals, there are some conversations that are necessary but very difficult to initiate. Discussions about drug use and mental illness can fall into this category – but just because these are challenging topics, that doesn’t mean organisations can delay them.


The rise in cases of drug and alcohol abuse in many parts of Australia’s workforce is becoming an increasing concern for businesses nationwide.

Some employers are choosing to take a proactive stance, with the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce stepping up to ask a few difficult questions.

The significant effects that drug and alcohol abuse is having on many industries throughout Australia has incited the head of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to query its members about substance abuse within their businesses.

Michael Bailey launched the Tasmanian Survey of Business Expectations in response to a “nagging fear” that drug and alcohol abuse remains an unacknowledged problem in the Tasmanian workforce.

Through this survey, Bailey hopes to gauge the seriousness of the problem in Tasmanian workplaces.

According to drug testing consultant Cameron Stuart, drug abuse issues within Australian workplaces are “always under the surface”.

Insofar as substance abuse can have a significant impact on productivity, the benefits in establishing a workplace testing or treatment program far outweigh the costs. Indeed in any case where workplace productivity is affected, employers need to find an effective and professional means of addressing the issue.

Often, the resolution of such situations will require a frank conversation with those involved.

Such conversations need to be approached with sensitivity and care, given that that there could be a host of reasons for such activities. Drug or alcohol abuse, for example, may reflect an employee’s attempt to cope with more serious issues in their private life.

iHR Australia’s Professional and Courageous Conversations onsite training program aims to instruct managers and supervisors on the best practices for effectively addressing difficult or sensitive workplace situations, and how to conduct conversations that are wholly professional and achieve positive results.

In this program, an experienced iHR facilitator and two professional actors stage a number of real-world scenarios in your workplace setting, where they present a range of workplace situations. Using iHR’s unique Workplace Reality Theatre, the scenarios featured in these re-enactments showcase our experienced facilitators as they present scenes as the basis for discussions, with the scenarios then dissected and analysed.

The topics addressed in our ‘Professional and Courageous Conversations’ program include:
• Communication and conflict
• Working through emotions
• Responding versus reacting
• Individual needs versus organisational needs
• Conducting courageous professional conversations and moving on
• Introduction to useful phrases and questions.

The program provides managers, team leaders and supervisors with a set of skills integral to any productive organisation, such as strategies to:
• Manage emotions in challenging situations
• Respond and not react in difficult situations
• Consider team and organisational needs in problematic situations
• Have challenging discussions with co-workers and staff
• Conduct courageous, assertive and positive discussions.

All of iHR Australia’s onsite programs are delivered at your premises, and can be customised to ensure they are entirely relevant to your organisation’s structures, needs and challenges. This might include amending the scripts or language featured in re-enactments to reflect the setting or team culture of your organisation.

Your organisation’s policies can also be included and training can be modified to focus on particular objectives, specific behaviours or cultural issues. Customised training has been shown to encourage a deeper understanding of the subject matter and its context.

To find out more about this iHR Australia training course please contact us on 1300 884 687 or make an online enquiry.