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8 Reasons to Become a Recovery-Friendly Workplace

Healthier Employees Make Businesses Thrive

woman at restaurant working

The pandemic made many people realize just how much of their lives are spent at work and prompted some to make changes to be healthier and thrive. For those in recovery from mental health conditions and substance use disorders, the workplace can be a challenging environment. It can take a tremendous effort to stay well and due to stigma, the majority of people feel like they need to hide it if they are struggling at work. However, we know there are millions of people in recovery who contribute their talents to businesses everyday. For that reason, the recovery-friendly workplace initiative was developed.

What is a Recovery Friendly Workplace?

A recovery-friendly workplace is an environment that actively supports employees’ mental health in addition to physical health. The goal is to create a workplace culture that promotes health, well-being, and understanding for individuals dealing with mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Certified recovery-friendly workplaces implement policies, programs, and resources to provide support, reduce stigma, and encourage employees to seek help when needed, without the fear of losing their job. 

Benefits of Recovery Friendly Workplaces

1. Employee Well-being:

  • Enhanced Mental Health: A recovery-friendly environment promotes mental well-being, contributing to reduced stress and improved overall mental health for employees.

  • Reduced Substance Misuse: Supportive workplaces can contribute to lower rates of substance misuse and relapse among employees, fostering a healthier workforce.

Within the US workforce, 75% of adults with untreated SUD miss approximately 50% more work compared to their colleagues. 

2. Productivity and Performance:

  • Higher Job Satisfaction: Employees in recovery-friendly workplaces often experience higher job satisfaction, leading to increased productivity and commitment to their roles.

  • Reduced Absenteeism: By addressing mental health and substance use issues, organizations often see a decrease in absenteeism as employees are better able to manage their health.

3. Employee Retention:

  • Increased Loyalty: When employees feel supported during their recovery, they are more likely to feel a sense of loyalty to the organization, leading to higher retention rates.

  • Positive Workplace Culture: A recovery-friendly culture contributes to a positive work environment that helps attract and retain talent.

The World Health Organization reported mental health conditions are the leading cause of disability worldwide.

4. Cost Savings:

  • Decreased Healthcare Costs: By proactively addressing mental health and substance use issues, companies may see a reduction in healthcare costs related to these issues.

  • Substance Use Disorder (SUD) results in annual healthcare costs totaling $400 billion, with heavy drinking alone estimated to cause a loss of $482 billion in productivity each year. Individuals who misuse alcohol are 270% more likely to experience accidents. 

  • According to a study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the cost of depression and anxiety disorders in the workplace is estimated to be $210.5 billion per year.

  • Lower Turnover Costs: Retaining experienced employees reduces the costs associated with recruitment, onboarding, and training of new staff.

Businesses who have mental health initiatives report increased productivity, lower overall medical costs for employees, lower absenteeism and decreased disability costs.

5. Legal and Regulatory Compliance:

  • Compliance with Anti-Discrimination Laws: Maintaining recovery-friendly workplaces can help organizations comply with anti-discrimination laws related to individuals in recovery.

  • Positive Public Image: Embracing recovery-friendly policies contributes to a positive public image, which can be beneficial in terms of public relations and brand reputation.

6. Employee Engagement:

  • Improved Team Morale: A supportive environment fosters positive relationships among colleagues.

  • Encouraged Open Communication: Employees are more likely to communicate openly about their challenges, facilitating a culture of understanding and empathy.

7. Risk Reduction:

  • Mitigated Workplace Incidents: Addressing substance use and mental health issues proactively can reduce the risk of workplace accidents and incidents related to impaired judgment or performance.

  • Prevention of Relapses: A recovery-friendly workplace can provide resources and support to help employees avoid relapses, contributing to a safer work environment.

8. Legal Protections:

  • Compliance with Legal Requirements: Some jurisdictions may have legal requirements or recommendations regarding the treatment of employees with substance use disorders. A recovery-friendly workplace ensures compliance with these regulations.

By creating an environment that supports employees in their recovery journey, organizations can not only contribute to the well-being of their staff but also experience positive outcomes in terms of productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall organizational success.

For more information about the recovery-friendly workplace initiative in Connecticut and to learn how to get your workplace certified, visit

A few large companies that offer mental health and recovery friendly initiatives:

  • Johnson & Johnson

  • Unilever

  • Accenture

  • Google

  • Microsoft

  • SAP

  • American Express

  • Lloyds Banking Group

  • PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

  • Salesforce

  • Alkermes

  • Advocate Aurora Health

  • The Hartford

  • Sobriety Engine

  • Caron Treatment Centers

  • Cerner Corporation

  • General Motors (GM)

  • Aetna (a CVS Health company)

  • The Cheesecake Factory

  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)

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