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Alcohol in the workplace

Alcohol is now the number one risk factor for ill-health, premature death and disability among 15 – 49 year olds in England. It has significant affects on individuals, families and businesses (Public Health England, 2016).

In 2016, there were over 7,000 alcohol-specific deaths in the UK. The death rate was highest among people aged 55 – 64 (ONS, 2017).

Males accounted for the majority (65%) of these alcohol-related deaths in the UK in 2015.

Even though individuals in managerial and professional occupations (such as doctors and lawyers) are likely to drink more frequently than those in routine and manual occupations (BMA, 2017). It is actually those in the routine and manual occupations (such as van drivers, labourers and cleaners), that are at greater risk of dying from alcohol-related disease (ONS, 2011).

Many people are still unfamiliar with the UK’s low risk drinking guidelines. This means they may be unaware of the damage their drinking could be causing.

People who drink more than the recommended levels of alcohol are at a higher risk of many illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, liver disease and cancer.

Cost of alcohol to businesses

  • The Government has estimated that up to 17 million working days are lost each year in the UK because of alcohol-related sickness, costing employers around £1.7 billion (NICE, 2010).

  • The total annual cost of alcohol-related absenteeism and ‘presenteeism’ (attending work when ill) to the UK economy is estimated to be £7.3 billion due to losses in productivity (Home Office, 2012).

A 2007 survey by Norwich Union Healthcare found a number of alcohol-related workplace issues:

  • A third of employees admitted to having been to work with a hangover

  • 15% reported having been drunk at work

  • 1 in 10 reported having hangovers at work once a month

  • Work problems resulting from hangovers or being drunk at work included: difficulty concentrating, reduced productivity, tiredness and mistakes

It has also been estimated that 40% of accidents at work involve or are related to alcohol use.

It therefore makes business sense to support and encourage employees to lead healthier lifestyles and to drink alcohol within the recommended guidelines. This would help to reduce the likelihood of alcohol-related absence, accidents and underperformance.

For more statistics on alcohol at work, please see the infographic below:

Resources to promote alcohol awareness in the workplace

Developing an alcohol at work policy and increasing your employees' awareness around alcohol will help to create a healthier work culture. Take a look at these useful guides, websites and campaigns to help you kick start the process.

This booklet covers the rationale behind raising alcohol awareness, guidance on writing an alcohol policy and developing a healthier work culture. It also includes fun ideas and activities for alcohol awareness events.

Produced by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) and updated in November 2017, this interesting and informative factsheet covers three key areas:

  1. Alcohol and the working population

  2. The causes and effects of workplace drinking

  3. Putting alcohol policies to work

This website contains loads of useful information, tips, advice and interactive tools to help people make better choices about their drinking. Encourage your employees to have a go at the ‘DrinkCompare Calculator’ to see how their drinking compares to others in the UK. Get clued up about the different health effects of alcohol. You can also find out what to do if you’re worried about someone else’s drinking.

This website contains useful information on a range of topics related to alcohol. It also has some great tools to help people to drink less, such as the One You ‘Drink Free Days' app, which is a simple and easy way to track the days you drink alcohol and the days you don't. 

Find out about a range of issues related to alcohol, such as binge drinking, the hidden risks of 'social drinking' and tips on cutting down. For employees who may be a carer for a problematic drinker, there’s also information about caring for an alcoholic. Don’t forget, The Carers Hub can provide support and advice to carers in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent.

  • Alcohol Change UK (A new charity formed by the merger of Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Research UK)

This website contains loads of interesting statistics on alcohol, including factsheets on ‘Alcohol in the workplace’, ‘Alcohol and fitness’ and ‘Alcohol and parenting’.

Dry January is the UK’s one-month booze-free challenge!

Alcohol Change UK is inspiring workplaces across the country to encourage their staff to ‘Sign Up, Save Money and Feel Great!’. Order your free Dry January Workplace Pack now. 

Alcohol Awareness Week normally takes place during the third week of November every year.

The Health and Wellbeing Planner that is found on Staffordshire Connects is an excellent tool that your employees can use to find local (Staffordshire) and national advice, information and support on a range of health and wellbeing related issues, such as alcohol, healthy eating, mental health, physical activity and stopping smoking.  

They can use the Health and Wellbeing Planner to help them make some positive, healthy changes to their lives, by identifying what they want to achieve, what they can do differently to achieve their goal, and understanding what advice and support will help them along the way.

Get in touch

Let us know what you’re doing in your workplace on alcohol awareness by emailing Workplace Health.

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