SHRM Poll: Half of Employers Conduct Drug Tests on Final Job Candidates

September 7, 2011

Some organizations found that conducting drug tests improved employee productivity and reduced absenteeism.

Alexandria, Va. — More than half of employers (57 percent) conduct drug tests on all job candidates, while only 29 percent do not conduct drug tests on any job candidates, according to a poll released today by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in collaboration with and commissioned by the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA).

Most employers who use tests on job candidates have done so for seven years or more (69 percent), and 12 percent have used them for five to six years.

“Among the organizations using these testing programs, the tendency is to continue the use of them over relatively long periods of time,” said Mark Schmit, director of research at SHRM. “In addition, organizations are reporting positive impacts related to drug and alcohol testing that supports the efficacy of these programs."

The SHRM/ DATIA poll – Drug Testing Efficacy found that some employers noticed an impact on employee productivity, absenteeism and workers compensation incidence rates after implementing drug testing programs.

  • A fifth of organizations (19 percent) reported seeing an improvement in productivity.
  • Four percent of employers said they had high absenteeism rates (more than 15 percent) after implementing drug testing programs compared to 9 percent before beginning programs, a decrease of more than 50 percent.
  • Six percent of organizations saw workers’ compensation incidence rates of more than 6 percent after implementing programs compared to 14 percent before starting drug testing programs, a decrease of more than 50 percent.
  • For employers with drug testing programs, 16 percent reported a decrease in employee turnover rates, while 8 percent reported an increase, after the implementation of a drug testing program.

Neil Fortner, DATIA Chairman elect and the study’s principal investigator said, “The data show that drug testing may yield a high return on investment by creating a more stable, productive and safe workplace.”

The poll of 1,058 randomly selected HR professionals examines employers’ drug testing policies and practices. Among other findings:

  • The majority of organizations (72 percent) with multinational operations reported that all, almost all or some of the same protocols and policies are applied on drug testing employees outside of the United States.
  • Drug tests are not common for existing employees. Nearly two-thirds of organizations (64 percent) do not conduct post-employment drug tests on existing employees.
  • When employers do post-employment drug tests, the most common tests are post-accident testing (51 percent), random testing (47 percent), and reasonable suspicion testing (35 percent).
  • Most employers (77 percent) conduct drug testing at off-site drug testing facilities only, while 16 percent conducting drug tests both in-house and off-site.

“Cost, logistics and consideration for candidates influence when drug tests are given,” said Richard Jordan, a member of SHRM's Staffing and Talent Management Expertise Panel. "If used, it's typically at the pre- or post-offer stages as part of the pre-employment verification process, depending on each organization's policy and standard procedures."

For details, visit the research section of at Follow SHRM Research on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

Media: For more information or to schedule an interview with a human resource expert, contact Jennifer Hughes at 703-535-6072 and or Laura Shelton, with DATIA at 800-355-1257, ext. 40 or

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at Follow us on Twitter at: SHRMPress

About the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association

The Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) was founded in 1995 and is the largest association representing the entire spectrum of drug and alcohol testing service providers including: collection sites, laboratories, consortia/third party administrators, medical review officers, and testing equipment manufacturers. DATIA’s mission is to provide education, resources, and advocacy to those involved in and interested in drug and alcohol testing. Visit DATIA Online at



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