Becoming a recovery friendly workplace was a no-brainer, says Theresa Calvert, vice president of Ace Pipe Cleaning Inc., a Kansas City, Missouri, company with 200 employees.

“It’s not only the right thing to do for our employees; it’s a good business decision, too,” Calvert said.

Ace is among the first six companies to receive this designation since the University of Missouri Extension Recovery designation process has been available online to all Missouri businesses.

Learn how to become a Recovery Friendly Workplace now.

The Recovery Friendly Workplace Designation program provides businesses with training to support employees in recovery from substance use disorder. It also helps companies foster a workplace culture that promotes overall employee safety, health, and well-being, said Ann McCauley, Recovery Friendly Workplace project director with MU Extension Community Health, Engagement and Outreach.

Companies complete an orientation and a course that consists of three educational training modules that help increase their understanding of substance use disorder and demonstrate how to become an effective ally for people in recovery. The course is free and designed so participants can move at their own pace as they complete the online trainings. The course also asks for pre- and post-evaluation, important information for developing additional effective resources and programs. 

“Businesses everywhere are struggling to fill positions. This hinders economic opportunity and growth and companies’ abilities to contribute to the tax base. People in recovery are an untapped resource and hiring them is one solution to the workplace shortage,” McCauley said.

Research shows that the people in recovery who have a job have the highest success rates and are the least likely to relapse, McCauley said. Yet often, they are often not even considered for employment. Even employers that want to support workers through recovery often don’t know what to do.  

“RFW training helps employers become confident and capable of hiring and retaining people in recovery. As more businesses pursue this designation, they will have the opportunity to be part of a cohort to share expertise and information — whether that’s ideas for connecting companies to appropriate social services and treatment and rehabilitation options or helping companies rewrite bylaws and HR policies and practices to align with the recovery friendly approach,” McCauley said.   

Ace Pipe Cleaning Inc. celebrated its designation, inviting local Chamber of Commerce representatives to a company luncheon.  All workers’ hard hats now include the RFW logo along with the company’s logo.

‘This was definitely something to celebrate and help spread the word about,” Calvert said. While Ace has always aimed to live up to the employee-centered principles of its founder, the RFW training and designation provided recovery know-how and resources the company lacked before.

“Often, we’ve invested a lot of time and resources in training people. It makes sense to support them — and our investment. And by casting a wider net to include people in recovery, we open ourselves to a much bigger pool of potential employees,” Calvert said.

Another advantage that often is overlooked: “It really makes everybody who is working for us feel like we’re a really special company. They know they don’t have to hide things from us; we’re ready to work with them and support them when they are having problems.”