Alcohol in the workplace
Alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15 – 49 year olds in the UK. It has significant affects on individuals, families and businesses (Public Health England, 2020).
In 2018, there were over 7,500 alcohol-specific deaths in the UK. The death rate was highest among people aged 55 – 64 (ONS, 2019).
Males accounted for the majority (67%) of these alcohol-related deaths.
People working in managerial and professional occupations (such as doctors, lawyers and teachers) drink more frequently than those in routine and manual occupations (ONS, 2018). However, employees in some industries (such as mining and construction, hospitality and wholesale) are more likely to become heavy or dependent drinkers.
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
- 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).
Alcohol Change UK highlight a number of alcohol-related workplace issues:
- 35% of people say they've noticed colleagues under the influence of alcohol or drugs at work
- 25% of people say that alcohol or drugs have affected them at work, with 23% saying they had experienced decreased productivity as a result
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.
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.
Toolkits and guides:
This booklet produced by the British Heart Foundation 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 October 2020, this factsheet includes a model workplace alcohol policy.
Campaigns, websites and apps:
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 Quiz’ 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 Better Health ‘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 risks of drinking too much, and tips on cutting down. There’s also information for employees who may be caring for someone with an alcohol problem.
This website contains loads of interesting statistics on alcohol, including factsheets on ‘Alcohol in the workplace’, ‘Alcohol and mental health’ 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.
There are an increasing number of health and wellbeing apps available. We are making it easier for you and your employees to find apps that can help you to stay healthy and well with our Health and Wellbeing App Finder Tool. This includes the top rated apps for drinking less alcohol.
Staffordshire Connects is our easy to use directory. It provides details about hundreds of different care, support and wellbeing organisations, local activities, clubs and community groups taking place across Staffordshire.
You can find a range of local alcohol and drug support services within the 'Adults and Communities' section, under 'Health and Wellness'.
Get in touch
Let us know what you’re doing in your workplace on alcohol awareness by emailing Workplace Health.