Drinking in the Workplace: Problems and Solutions

Drinking on the Job is Frequently Accepted Even Encouraged

Drinking in the workplace is a bad idea for reasons that should seem obvious yet many employers look the other way when employees drink on the job and many actually encourage the use of alcohol.

Mad Men a popular American television program isn't far off the mark in its depiction of how alcohol is used in the workplace. According to a 2012 report by ABC News some employers believe that drinking creates a happier more creative workplace and they may be somewhat correct. Research by University of Chicago suggests that small amounts of alcohol may unleash creativity and support problem-solving.

Workers frequently head out for a round or two of cocktails at lunch. Frequently liquor is often in plain sight and employees drink openly without constraint.

There's a widely held belief that drinking encourages bonding and solidarity among employees and that it bolsters workers who in some industries may work grueling 10 to 12 hour shifts. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA notes that problems often arise on evening shifts when supervision tends to be more relaxed.

Drinking is widely accepted as part of workplace culture and tends to be more prominent in male-dominated occupations. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence NCADD reports that drinking on the job is especially common in construction food service drilling and mining construction maintenance and repair.

Drinking in the Workplace is a Bad Idea

Despite what many employers believe drinking in the workplace isn’t a good way to build teamwork or to attract quality employees. Drinking on the job threatens employee and public safety impacts job performance and results in tremendous losses in productivity.

When employers look the other way the result is a high rate of absenteeism and sick leave increased accidents and injuries poor decision making and a high employee turnover. Other problems include tardiness sleeping on the job theft sexual harassment aggression and disrespectful behavior towards employers and coworkers.

Preventing Workplace Drinking

It’s up to employers to set policies and work towards establishment of an alcohol-free workplace. Employee Assistance Programs EAP provide confidential substance abuse treatment when drinking on and off the job leads to dependence or addiction.

Carefully devised educational programs can reduce stigma and increase awareness of risks associated with drinking while helping employees develop better strategies for coping with stress both on and off the job.

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