The 21st century work environment has been marked by long work days and exciting leaps in productivity for many companies. To keep up with this fever pitch, new waves of younger employees have begun adopting methods to help them compete that may be seen as unconventional.

Just like when you were in elementary school, attention deficit hyperactive disorder is present in the workplace as well. While some workers have been taking medications designed to control the symptoms of ADHD for years with no ill effects, there seems to be a rising trend of those who seek these drugs nonmedically. Despite the fact that these medications can have focus-enhancing properties, this is a slippery slope that can quickly develop into issues for employers and their staff.

A prescription for trouble?
ADHD is a relatively common condition – in fact, the Society for Human Resource Management pointed out that 5.2 percent of working adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with it. So too, then, are the medications that are frequently used to treat it. But while popular prescription drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta can help those afflicted with ADHD recenter their focus and achieve the productivity they’re capable of, these drugs can also have the potential for misuse.

Employees who take these medications nonmedically – even for a short period of time – may think they’re boosting their overall focus and concentration. In reality however, such a behavior may be setting themselves up for difficulties ranging from poor mood to near-dependency. These drugs are a form of stimulant, which is why they’re so desirable to young professionals who want to plow through a mountain of work to complete a project. But this can quickly lead to things like difficulty sleeping and an inability to focus at all without the drug.

Alternate accommodations for ADHD
Of course, not everyone who takes Adderall or Ritalin in the workplace is abusing it. Many employees with ADHD have prescriptions for these medications. In fact, there are many ways that employers can help their staff members with ADHD perform to the best of their abilities. One example from the Society for Human Resource Management highlighted an employee who was permitted to break her work day up into two shifts – she worked in the mornings from the office, and spent the evenings working from home. This solution was effective at helping her maintain her focus.

Providing adequate accommodations for employees with physical or mental health issues can be challenging for small-business owners, especially when it comes to navigating the channels of compliance with ADA and EEOC regulations. Fortunately, PEO companies can offer expert HR solutions guidance to these organizations.