Alcohol and workplace wellbeing in a small business


Alcohol and workplace wellbeing in a small business

Employees in the UK take up to 17 million alcohol-related sick days each year1 and 200,000 people turn up for work with a hangover every day2.  This cost the economy £7.3 billion (2009/10 prices) 3.

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, according to a report by the Health and Safety Executive4.

In other words, top performance is not likely to happen with a hangover at work and especially not when you think about the associated side effects (tiredness, poorer co-ordination and slower reaction times). For small businesses that rely heavily on the people they have, the consequences can be rather large even if only a few people have had a bit too much one evening.

There are steps employers can take to minimise the chances of their business being adversely affected by out of office alcohol consumption without coming across as intrusive.

Alcohol consumption from a preventative perspective

There are alcohol education programmes with the aim of creating a healthier, happier and more productive workforce with steps you as an employer can take to reduce alcohol related incidents.  One option is a programme called Drinkaware at Work: flexible alcohol education for employees and is run by the independent UK-wide alcohol education charity Drinkaware.  There is a course for smaller organisations called For the Facts:

  • For the Facts: a face to face, interactive session delivered by a Drinkaware specialist, ideal for groups of up to 40 people.

Wellbeing for the employer and the employee

It is important for employers to be aware of these issues from a people-management perspective to help everybody perform to the best of their abilities and reach their potential. It is also good from a profit perspective as you could reduce the number of ‘sick days’, presenteeism and errors made due to the side effects of working with a hangover.


1 NICE (2010) Business case: Alcohol-use disorders: preventing harmful drinking, London: HMSO

2  Institute of Alcohol studies 2014, Alcohol in the Workplace Factsheet, London 1AS

3 Home Office (November 2012) Impact Assessment on a minimum unit price for alcohol

4 Don’t mix it - A Guide for employers on alcohol at work


This article has been written in collaboration with Bupa, one of Elect’s insurance providers. It is for information only and is not specific advice. It is based on our current understanding of the attributed research which may change in the future.