Employers need to consider alcohol consumption strategies within health and wellbeing schemes

During Alcohol Awareness Week (16-20 Nov) and with Christmas not far away, Buck Consultants has produced guidance for employers on the importance of alcohol consumption strategies within their health and wellbeing schemes.

Chris Evans, senior consultant, Buck Consultants at Xerox, says: “Whilst formally reported alcohol consumption has been falling consistently in recent years, many people underestimate how much they drink, and have little appreciation of the detrimental impact relatively small quantities of alcohol can have on their health and wellbeing.The heaviest drinkers, and therefore those with the greatest likelihood of experiencing alcohol problems, tend to be concentrated in those of working age. Heavy drinking during the working week contributes to the prevalence of alcohol-related health problems among adults, which in turn can impact the productivity of UK firms.”

Top tips for employers when considering alcohol-related strategies in the workplace:

  • Establish a clear and well communicated policy regarding alcohol in the workplace
  • Include within line manager training detail of identify and reacting to employees who may be encountering alcohol related problems
  • Provide employees with easy access to information on the recommended guidelines regarding alcohol consumption
  • Publicise sources of information and support related to alcohol consumption and its impact on health
  • Encourage employees to undertake periodic self-assessment on alcohol consumption and promote awareness and abstinence days/weeks/months

Don Shenker, director of Alcohol Health Network, says: “In the run-up to Christmas, with most workplaces having parties and celebrating the end of the year, it’s important to remember that drinking too much alcohol does carry risks. Research shows managers in general tend to drink more heavily and this can lead to problems if employers are not prepared. This is a good time to remind all managers, employers and workplaces that when it comes to drinking, raising awareness about the risks involved can prevent workplace injuries, accidents and health problems from occurring.”

Chris Evans adds: “Up to 17 million working days are lost each year because of alcohol-related sickness at a cost to employers of an estimated £1.7bn – with the total annual costs attributed to lost productivity in the workplace reaching a staggering £7.3bn.

‘While research reported by IAS2 suggests that 15%-24% of lawyers will suffer from alcoholism during their careers. While this time of year is traditionally a time of celebrating and having fun, employers also need to consider the possible impact and the health and wellbeing of their staff, ensuring that, as part of their existing strategy, initiatives are in place and information readily available to support employees.”