Are You an Alcohol Aware Employer?

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In times of economic and financial uncertainty for many employees, it’s not surprising that levels of stress and anxiety are rising, and that for some employees, alcohol use will feature as a way to de-stress and cope with emotional and financial difficulties.

While one in four employees will drink in ways that risk harm to their health, very few employers realise they can actually play a big part in helping to reducing this risk.

Research shows that many drinkers who drink above the guidelines do not realise the impact this has on their health - and yet a significant proportion would cut down if they were given appropriate information and advice.

This is a win-win for businesses and employees - Employers who encourage employees to check their drinking levels gain in employee wellbeing and productivity levels.

We know, however, that few employers use all the tools in the toolbox to reduce alcohol harm across their workforce.

While around half of employers do have an alcohol policy, only a few review this regularly and communicate it well to employees.

Many large employers will have an EAP or occupational health support available for anyone concerned about their drinking, but the level of health promotion to provide awareness of "how much is too much" is often quite limited - most people who are drinking too much don't actually realise they are doing so.

The most evidence based and effective way to encourage people to cut down is to show them how much they drink and how this compares with lower risk levels. While some employers link to alcohol awareness campaigns once or even twice a year, few encourage employees to actually check how much they drink, despite evidence that shows this is effective.

Finally, very few employers train their managers to spot the signs of alcohol issues among employees early on and to have the skills to deal with these effectively and appropriately.

When you consider all this in the round it means that very few employers have reached the excellence level in the Workplace Wellbeing Charter – although if you have, we’d love to hear from you!

This is why we’re calling on all employers to become Alcohol Aware Employers, which simply means doing all you can to promote alcohol awareness and reduce the risk of alcohol harm – both to employees and to your business or organisation.

In line with the Workplace Wellbeing Charter, our Alcohol Aware Employer campaign is asking all employers to ensure:

  • There is a clear, up to date alcohol policy, well communicated to all employees
  • Alcohol awareness is regularly promoted among all employees
  • Managers are supported and trained to spot alcohol problems early and know how to deal with them effectively
  • Employees with alcohol problems are encouraged to seek advice and support

To help you on your way we’ve developed some free resources:

Take our online diagnostic test to help you find out if you’re an Alcohol Aware Employer – we’ll provide you with personalised feedback on how you’re doing. We recognise every employer is on a journey, so the diagnostic test lets you see how far you’ve travelled, and what might be your next steps.

In our Free Starter Pack, you'll find our Alcohol Policy Checklist, Alcohol and Workplace Wellbeing FAQs and Infographic on Alcohol and Workplace Wellbeing..

We’re confident that our campaign will encourage more employers to do all they can to improve health and wellbeing by promoting alcohol awareness.

Please join our campaign: use our free resources and spread the word!

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Posted by Paula Glassman on 5th March 2017