10 Reasons Why Employers should consider investing in Alcohol Awareness

A growing number of employers are recognising the benefit of raising alcohol awareness in the workplace – not because they suspect employees are drinking on the job, but because they believe it is just as valuable to promote a healthy relationship with alcohol as it is to promote a healthy diet and regular exercise. 

In spite of a slowing down of the boozy, binge-fuelled ‘90s and 00’s, 1 in 4 UK workers still consistently drink above NHS lower-risk guidelines, affecting their health and the UK economy, which currently loses £7.3bn per year to alcohol misuse.

Alcohol Health Network is calling on all employers to consider how they can promote alcohol awareness amongst their staff and improve employees' alcohol related health.  

10 Reasons every employer should invest in Alcohol Awareness:

  1. Informed employees can make healthy lifestyle choices for themselves. 1 in 4 UK workers drink above NHS guidelines, however 70% are unaware of how much they drink. Giving people information, making sure they know the unit guidelines and how drinking might be affecting their health, will enable your employees to make informed decisions about their drinking.
  2. Reduce mental health problems - many people drink to reduce stress – however this can then lead to a cycle of stress, drinking and depression. While alcohol can have a very temporary positive impact on our mood, in the long term it's linked to a range of issues from depression and memory loss to suicide.
  3. Reduce absenteeism - 17 million working days are lost each year due to alcohol-related illness, costing employers an estimated £1.7bn per year1. Public Health England reports that 167,000 working years are lost in the UK to alcohol misuse per year 2 - more than the 10 most common cancers combined. Alcohol is also linked to 7 types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. In fact it's associated with over 60 illnesses.
  4. Reduce presenteeism. Alcohol related presenteeism (people coming to work and underperforming due to ill health) might be costing more than absenteeism 3. In a survey by Norwich Union 4, a third of employees admitted to having been to work with a hangover, 15% reported having been drunk at work, 1 in 10 reported hangovers at work once a month and 1 in 20 once a week. Work problems resulting from hangovers or being drunk at work included difficulty concentrating, reduced productivity, tiredness and mistakes.
  5. Reduce accidents. The Institute of Alcohol Studies reports that up to 40% of workplace accidents involve alcohol 5.
  6. Improve employee engagement and moral – In workplaces we’ve supported – where management engaged with employees about the type of  alcohol awareness messages we promoted – employees fed back that they felt engaged and empowered to change the drinking culture.
  7. Reduce staff turnover. Offering all employees the chance to self assess their drinking levels and letting them know that support is available for anyone who wants it, enables an employee who's drinking at harmful levels to cut down or stop, reducing the likelihood of disciplinary action. The findings from a national study by Oxford Economics in 2014 found that, on average, each member of staff that leaves costs an employer £30,614 to replace.
  8. Empower your line managers. Managers often lack the skills and confidence to deal with a suspected alcohol issue. This means that problems are often left to fester, until things get out of hand, causing more difficulties (and cost) for HR. Training managers to use their listening skills, spot the signs of an alcohol problem early and clarifying your alcohol policy helps skill up managers to be more proactive about tackling emerging problems head on.
  9. Create a healthy workplace culture. Some employees may use after-work drinking as a way of socialising or bonding. Others may drink alcohol in the process of doing business, through client entertainment or lunch meetings for instance. These factors need to be acknowledged if alcohol use is affecting productivity or client/customer relations. Drinking in this context may actually normalise and help cover up potential alcohol problems.
  10. Improve the diversity of your workforce - not everyone likes to drink, and a heavy drinking culture in some organisations can deter non- or low drinkers from applying to join your workforce.

 

How Can We Help Employers Promote Alcohol Awareness?

  • Policy Advice & Consultancy - ensure your alcohol policy is up to date and in line with best practice and communicated to all employees
  • Drink Checker online self assessment licensed to employers for all employees to check their drinking, 24/7.
  • Line Manager Training - 2.5 hr on-site training sessions to provide line managers with skills and confidence to manage alcohol problems effectively
  • Lunch and Learn - interactive and fun sessions for all employees, with alcohol awareness materials to take away
  • Alcohol Health Stalls - an engaging way to get the conversation started, with beer goggle challenge, online alcohol checks on ipads, smoothie bike and goodie bags of awareness materials

If you'd like to find out more about how we can help you to promote alcohol awareness in your workplace, please do get in touch.

020 3151 2420  hello@alcoholhealthnetwork.org.uk

 

  1. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (June 2010), 'Business case: Alcohol-use disorders: preventing harmful drinking', p. 13
  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/583047/alcohol_public_health_burden_evidence_review.pdf
  3. Well-being—absenteeism, presenteeism, costs and challenges, Cary Cooper, Philip Dewe. Occup Med (Lond) (2008) 58 (8): 522-524. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqn124
  4. Aviva (May 2008), 'UK employees admit that regular drinking affects their jobs'
  5. http://www.ias.org.uk/uploads/pdf/Factsheets/Alcohol%20in%20the%20workplace%20factsheet%20March%202014.pdf

Posted by Paula Glassman on 14th June 2017