What can Employers do to raise alcohol awareness at work?

Recent research has shown that in terms of alcohol consumption, the UK ranks 11th among the heaviest drinking countries in the developed world, 12% higher than the average 1 – and the heaviest drinkers are professionals, not necessarily drinking at work, but certainly drinking after work or in-between shifts.

Drinking may be used to unwind and de-stress from a busy day, or used as a coping mechanism to deal with difficult issues at work or home.

One-quarter of the UK workforce 2 – approximately 7 million people – drink at Increasing risk or hazardous levels, meaning their drinking levels raise their risk of ill health, increased absenteeism, reduced productivity and loss of employment.

Employees’ drinking above government guidelines at these higher levels, contributes to 40% of workplace accidents and results in 17 million lost workdays per year. This costs Britain’s economy £7.3Bn every year 3.

So how can employers support employees to first understand if their drinking level is too high and then to cut down if needed?

Thankfully we now have excellent evidence of what works to both increase personal awareness and to lower drinking levels.

Alcohol Health Network (AHN) is a social enterprise working with the Business Healthy Circle and London employers to increase alcohol awareness and proactively reduce the human and economic cost of alcohol misuse in the workplace.

We particularly aim to support those who may not be aware that their level of drinking poses a risk to their health – using alcohol self-assessment tools, brief advice and signposting to support services.

AHN was set up in 2012 with an academic advisory board from University College London’s E-Health Unit, to bring the latest research on alcohol harm reduction to the workplace.

Our approach is to educate employees on alcohol consumption, guidelines and units and let employees see for themselves if their drinking is low, increasing or high risk – according to NHS guidelines. We do this both online and face-to-face – always confidentially and anonymously.

We provide employers with a number of options to raise awareness and provide support, including health events, training and talks for managers and employees, as well as accredited online tools and campaign materials.

FREE Alcohol Awareness Campaign Starter Pack

We also offer employers a free half-day consultancy session to help develop an action plan for alcohol awareness in the workplace. We have a free Alcohol Awareness Campaign Starter Pack for employees, which is available here: www.alcoholhealthnetwork.org.uk/what-we-do/free-starter-pack

FREE Masterclass – 11th June 2015

Alcohol Health Network will be providing a free Masterclass in partnership with the Business Healthy Circle on “Alcohol, health, wellbeing and work – Getting the balance right” – Ensuring effective alcohol awareness and support for employees and managers on 11th June 8-10am.

Click here to find out more and book your FREE tickets.

Don Shenker

Alcohol dependency counsellor, NICE policy advisor and alcohol harm reduction expert of over 20 years. Founder of the Alcohol Health Network and formerly CEO of Alcohol Concern.