Drinking at Work? Who does it and Why?

It cannot be denied that attitudes and working cultures are changing dramatically, especially when mentioning to drinking at work. Historically this has been a difficult question for the working sector in spite of the fact that it is now being addressed. A report from WTO in 2018 estimated the world economy has lost $8.3 billion due to alcohol consumption. The influence on people’s health and customer/colleague relationships is also something more businesses need to solve before it really causes irreparable consequences.

Drinking Culture in the Workplace

In many countries, a lunchtime drink is still a necessary part of the working culture and it is difficult to stop it. Various reasons have been identified as the roof of problem drinking including:

  • Concerns about job security

  • Extreme pressure in the workplace

  • Long hours and shift work

  • The constant risk of physical injury

  • High physical demands

  • Poor supervision/training

  • Tight deadlines which are often unachievable

Moreover, surveys have also indicated how individuals solve with stress at work:

  • 33% will comfort eat

  • 30% will speak to a friend or colleague

  • 30% will find solace in alcohol

In the fact that one of the main problems with drinking in the workplace is often ignored, considered as a part of the social culture and part of the working surroundings. While often believed to be more widespread in manual employment roles, drinking at work is an issue right across the management committee.

The Affect of Alcohol in the Workplace

It is easy to imagine a wide range of ways of how alcohol consumption can impact the result of your work. Some of the main problems include:

Concentration

Only with 2 pints of ordinary strength beer, or 4 small glasses of wine and something like this at lunchtime will immediately impact your concentration and still in your bloodstream after 3 hours. To people who had an excessive drink in the previous evening tend to get thumping headaches, cold sweats in the next morning, in some certain case, if drinker’s health is weak, he can suffer from paranoia. Of course, the less you concentrate, the lower your productivity will be.

Relationship with Customers

Those employees who are not conscious completely from the previous evening or go for a drink at lunchtime do not leave the best impression when meeting with customers. Except for the obvious smell of alcohol on their breath they may lose their words, speed of reaction may be lengthened and their ability to support customers can be severely decreased. Whether by the phone or in a meeting, this does not create the best image of the company.

Relationship with Colleagues

For any company to gain efficiently all work, staff need to cooperate together, support each other and enjoy the rewards. Displeasure can very quickly build and if a colleague is drunk in the workplace and unable to finish their duties to meet an acceptable standard. In this case, colleagues forced to “pick up the slack” may feel as though they are being placed in. This can lead to trouble, conflict and sometimes violence in the workplace.

Safety issues

Like the law, it is illegal to operate an array of machinery when under the impact of alcohol there are also unsafety issues for colleagues working with them on that day. Ensuring the well-being and safety of all employees is the legal obligation of the company. As such, if they recognize that an individual is under the control of alcohol then they take a responsibility to get him out the situation for the well-being of all parties.

If a leader is prepense to ignore a drunk employee and they make an accident or even kill somebody at work, the employer could face a hefty fine and possibly be sentenced to prison for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Addressing Alcohol in the Workplace

In many cases, excessive alcohol consumption can affect both general health and mental health issues. As a consequence, while historically many employers would simply have stopped hiring employees connecting an alcohol issue, today drinking is considered as an illness. Various procedures are now applied:

  • Mandatory testing

Some enterprises have applied mandatory testing for blood alcohol levels especially to employees who control machinery and vehicles. But with many people, this is something which violates it infringes on the human rights of individual employees even though it can ensure the safety of the wider workforce.

  • Time off work

In the case of obviousness that an officer has problems that need solving and they are consumers drinking too much alcohol compared to a regular basis, a boss can make a decision of giving them time off work. In many situations, this time off work to reflect and address problems in their personal life can result in a refreshed and more productive employee returning in due course.

  • Expert advice

Whereas large enterprises tend to have HR departments to support and conduct workers seeking advice about alcohol consumption, many companies will seek outside professional advice. This may include medical treatment and/or the opportunity to discuss issues and concerns with a trained psychologist.

  • Health and Safety at Work

All employers are legally required to ensure the well-being and safety of employees and customers. As a consequence, according to Accident Claims Advice, if there is an accident claim due to an employee being under the influence of alcohol the employer may be held wholly or partially responsible. While employers obviously have one eye on productivity and morale amongst the workforce they also have a legal obligation to ensure a safe and secure working environment.

  • Changing Attitudes

Whether socializing in the evening or partaking in a “liquid lunch” during working hours, there has been a relatively strong drinking culture across many different business sectors in the UK. Greater knowledge regarding the impact on physical and mental health, productivity and relationships have seen many people seek advice on alcohol addiction. There is also a legal obligation for employers to maintain a safe and secure working environment for employees and customers. Progress has been made in changing the drinking culture of years gone by but more work still needs to be done.

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