This company needs workers so badly it’s putting them through drug rehab

This past winter, John Stroup had a problem.

Roughly one out of 10 applicants for jobs at his factory in Richmond, Indiana, had failed their drug tests, disqualifying them for employment at the safety-conscious company. A handful of the 450 people already working there had failed random drug tests as well. With opioids ravaging the region, the CEO of Belden Inc. was short-staffed while orders for the company’s computer networking equipment were pouring in.

It’s a challenge confronting employers across America. Drugs are sapping a workforce already spread thin across a tight job market. Factories are particularly affected, with high overdose rates concentrated in counties that have a greater number of manufacturing jobs, according to an analysis by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.

Some employers have dealt with the opioid crisis by altering their insurance contracts to discourage physicians from prescribing addictive painkillers, a survey by the National Business Group on Health found. Many also offer Employee Assistance Plans, which generally cover a few sessions of counseling.

Stroup decided to do much more than that. What he came up with could be a model for employers across the country — if they’re desperate enough for workers.

Lydia DePillis/CNN Money