What is a Recovery-Ready Workplace?

man and woman walking down office hall conversing and laughing

Recovery-ready workplaces are characterized by the adoption of policies and practices that:

  • Expand employment opportunities for people in or seeking recovery;
  • Inform employees in recovery that they may have the right to reasonable accommodations and other protections that can help them keep their jobs;
  • Reduce the risk of substance use and substance use disorder, including through education and steps to prevent injury in the workplace;
  • Facilitate help-seeking among employees with substance use disorder; and,
  • Ensure access to needed services, including treatment, recovery support, and mutual aid.

The benefits of recovery-ready workplaces to employers, employees, and the broader public are enormous – reducing turnover, improving productivity, reducing health care costs, expanding the labor force, and promoting overall worker well-being and recovery. Employers adopting such policies also help to ameliorate societal stigma and misunderstanding by fostering a culture in which substance use disorder is recognized as a health condition and individuals in or seeking recovery are welcomed and supported in the workplace.

Recovery-ready workplace policies may include:

  • Developing and implementing innovative approaches for recruiting and creating employment opportunities for people in or seeking recovery, such as second-chance and supported employment models (like Individual Placement and Support) for people with or in recovery from substance use disorder;
  • Leveraging tax credits, bonding programs, and partnerships (e.g., with treatment, recovery support, and workforce organizations; problem-solving courts; and other public or private entities) to facilitate the identification and onboarding of people with or in recovery from substance use disorder and/or to meet the needs of current employees affected by addiction to alcohol or other drugs;
  • Adopting explicit branding as a recovery-ready or recovery-friendly employer, communicating what that entails to current and prospective employees and the broader community;
  • Establishing a team specifically responsible for overseeing efforts to become and remain a recovery-ready workplace; and,
  • Launching or accommodating peer support networks that may deploy recovery mentors or peer specialists and educators to their employees.

The federal government, non-federal public sector, and the private sector can all establish recovery-ready workplaces. Additionally, states, local governments, unions, trade, or industry groups, Chambers of Commerce, or independent entities such as community-based organizations, can lead multi-employer efforts that offer training, technical assistance, consultation, and certification as recovery-ready workplaces.