Alcoholism in the Workplace

How does your business handle alcoholism in the workplace? It’s a sensitive subject, but something that that employers are increasingly approaching us to assist with.

Do you know the steps for dealing an employee who may have problems with alcohol, or indeed another addiction? You should have a process in place that works with the employee to recognise that there is a problem, and put steps in place to rectify it.

Why is alcoholism in the workplace a problem?

According to HSE, alcohol is estimated to cause 3-5% of all absences from work. This equates to about 8 to 14 million lost working days – something your business can’t afford to ignore. As well as possibly losing you productivity and money, there is also a real risk from an employee doing their job under the influence. As HSE states, “Alcohol consumption may result in reduced work performance, damaged customer relations, and resentment among employees who have to ‘carry’ colleagues whose work declines because of their drinking.”

How do you know if it is a problem?

This is the most important element – at what point is someone’s possible alcohol addiction a problem to your business rather than an issue for their individual health? You need to set out, as a business, at what point and in what circumstances you will treat an employee’s drinking as a matter for discipline rather than a health problem.

Communication and the training of staff is an important factor here. You must let your workforce know your company policy on alcohol and other substances. Train your managers to recognise signs of alcoholism, general information about alcohol and health and what to do if they believe an employee’s personal situation is impacting on workplace.

What should you do if you believe an employee has an alcohol problem?

Once you become aware of the issue, you must keep accurate and confidential records of instances of where poor performance has caused a problem. You will also need to talk to the worker formally as early as possible.

Concentrate on the instances of poor performance that have been identified, and ask your employee the reasons for poor performance. You could question whether it could be due to a health problem, without specifically mentioning alcohol or drugs. If appropriate, now is the time to discuss your alcohol and drugs policy and the help available inside or outside of your organisation.

You can then agree future action and arrange regular meetings to monitor progress.

If you need further support with alcoholism in the workplace, talk to us today (contact page)

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