Support for managers
More than 25 million adults in the UK consume alcohol on a regular basis. So statistically, drinkers are more likely to be employed than non-drinkers. This means the effects of overconsumption of alcohol are often felt in the workplace.
Most drink at low risk levels but different people use alcohol in different ways. And most alcohol-related workplace incidents are not caused by very heavy drinkers but by more moderate drinkers.
Who is at risk?
Certain risk factors can lead to increased alcohol consumption. NHS and care staff are often exposed to these risks, which include:
- Shift work
- Poor working conditions
- Personal conflict and stress
- Low job security
- Changes or upheaval at work
- Drinking culture being seen as normal at work
What can you do?
Your employees are your most valuable asset. It makes sense for them to stay healthy, both inside and outside the workplace. If there is a problem with alcohol or drug misuse in your workplace then this may be part of a wider stress problem. You should consider whether to treat alcohol and drug misuse as a medical rather than a disciplinary matter.
Working arrangements have changed due to pandemic. That means that managers may not have the opportunities to observe and support their staff on a face-to-face basis as often as they’d like.
Here are some practical steps that managers can take to help support staff.
Know the law
Under what is known as the common law duty of care, you must take reasonable care of employees or they may be able to bring a claim of negligence. If you allow an employee to continue to work when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there is a risk that the duty of care may be breached. You may also be vicariously liable for the negligence of the intoxicated employee.
You should aim to develop a supportive culture that clearly and regularly communicates the support on offer for your staff.
Your organisation should have its own policy for supporting employees with alcohol and/or drug related problems. If you don’t have a policy then Alcohol Change UK can help you develop one.
You should ensure that their organisation’s policies are communicated to employees. You should encourage employees who believe they may have issues with alcohol or drugs to discuss problems openly and to take advantge of any support available.
Promote wellbeing activities
You should ensure that wellbeing is discussed openly and promoted via internal communications channels. It’s a good idea to have employee wellbeing as an agenda item in meetings.
You should also promote awareness events which support mental health, healthy eating, hydration, stress reduction and physical activity. Many organisations now train-up wellbeing champions to help organise and promote activities.
Look after yourself
On average, consumption tends to be higher among people in managerial and professional roles compared to lower paid occupations. It’s therefore important that you follow your own guidance and take responsibilty for your own health and wellbeing when it comes to alcohol usage.
Concerned about your drinking or someone else’s?
Call Drinkline on 0300 1231110 for free, confidential advice.
Find out more
- Alcohol and You – an NHS self help guide (PDF, 2MB)
- Alcohol statistics – the latest facts and figures about UK consumption at Alcohol Change UK
- Alcohol in the workplace factsheet (PDF, 44KB)
- Managing drug and alcohol use at work – a CIPD guide for employers (PDF, 2.7MB)
- Drinkaware at Work e-learning course – a fun, interactive, and engaging programme for employees of any sized organisation.