A drug-testing program can be a sure way to alienate employees. If it's insensitively designed, its message is, We don't trust you. Wayne Alexander, vice-president of training and development at Champs Restaurants, has divided his program into phases to make it more palatable to the company's 500 employees. Here's the Houston-based company's plan:

A statement. Champs has created an aggressive, strongly worded antidrug policy statement, which every worker reads.

Preemployment testing. Champs has begun testing on candidates for managerial positions. It first uses psychological tests to measure attitudes toward drug use. After narrowing its list of candidates, it subjects them to a urine test.

Voluntary testing. Soon Champs will begin visiting stores and asking for volunteer test takers. Those volunteers will get a Champs drug-free All-Star golf shirt to wear as part of their uniform.

The last phase depends on what Alexander discovers during the store visits. "If we get only 20% volunteering to take the test, we've got a problem. We'll have to implement a pretty stiff drug-testing-and-education program," he explains. On the other hand, if 80% of the staff volunteers to take the test, it's a sign that drug usage is minimal. In that case, Alexander is likely to stick with random testing.

No one drug-testing program is right for everyone, however. Here are two good ideas drawn from other companies:

* Hugo Railcar, in Hugo, Okla., tests a random selection of workers every 30 to 60 days. The key is that everyone, including the company's top managers, can be picked for the test.

* Will workers be offended by a drug-testing program? Thomasson Lumber, in Philadelphia, Miss., found out by polling employees. Everyone gave a thumbs up.

-- Ellyn E. Spragins