8 tips to a healthier relationship with alcohol at work

Alcohol can play a large role in the culture of many workplaces, from social functions and events, to lunches and outings celebrating team and individual employee success, and as a means of managing work-related issues including stress. Alcohol can also contribute to significant health, social and economic costs for individuals and workplaces. As an employer there are ethical, safety, legal, and economic reasons to prevent and manage alcohol-related harm and issues. Here’s some tips for creating a supportive and healthy workplace environment.

Stats on alcohol in the workplace:

  • 24% of workers admit to consuming risky amounts of alcohol.
  • 1 in 10 have been affected by a colleague’s use of alcohol in the workplace.
  • Some say it has reduced their ability to do their own job.
  • For others, it has led to involvement in an accident, or working extra hours to cover for a co-worker.

While some workplaces in Australia have a zero tolerance to alcohol consumption at work – mining, transport and aviation, for example, many others allow alcohol to be consumed in various degrees to develop networks, build relationships and improve staff morale.

Here’s 8 ways to implement a healthier relationship with alcohol at your workplace.

Employee Drinks At Bar

1. Workplace Policy

Start by developing, and then implementing, a workplace alcohol policy so your expectations in regards to appropriate levels of alcohol consumptions are clearly communicated.

Workplace Alcohol Education Program

2. Education in the workplace

To reinforce your alcohol policy, and help staff understand the impact alcohol can have on their health and workplace performance, provide in-house training or seminars on safe alcohol consumption in and around the workplace.

Coworkers Walking To Meeting

3. Alternative to drinking meetings

Instead of arranging staff, client and stakeholder meetings over lunch or drinks, suggest a walking meeting – this has the added advantage of releasing endorphins through light exercise.

Employee Wellbeing In Workplace

4. Active team building activities

Organise social and other team building functions that do not include alcohol – a day on a high ropes course, virtual reality gaming, 10 pin bowling or a morning of yoga and meditation, for example.

Employee Dinner And Drinks At Restaurant

5. Include food and non alcoholic beverage too

If your workplace function must include alcohol, create an environment that promotes moderate consumption by providing plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and substantial food.

Employee Safety At Work Functions

6. Ensure your teams don’t drink and drive

Likewise, where workplace events do offer alcohol, plan them on or near convenient public transport routes so staff are not tempted to drink and drive.

Group Of People Workplace Networking

7. Set expectations for responsible service of alcohol

Always insist on receiving responsible service of alcohol from function providers and clearly communicate to staff the expectation that individuals must act responsibly.

Female Coworkers Lunch In Workplace

8. Offer support and easily accessible resources

Better support staff who may be struggling with alcohol consumption by offering an easily accessible list of organisations, websites and services that provide alcohol support, counselling and information; and regularly encourage employees to talk to their doctor if they’re concerned about their health.

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