Insurance · 11 May 2016

Employers urged to be vigilant as binge drinking undermines UK productivity

binge drinking
Just 16 per cent of employers offer health advice on alcohol consumption

British business owners have been urged to address binge drinking among younger employees as new research reveals that hangovers could be undermining workplace productivity.

A study of over 1,000 workers carried out by health insurance company Willis PMI Group revealed almost 20 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds regularly go to work with a hangover that impedes their productivity – with more than one-quarter blaming this on their employer for promoting unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption.

Almost 30 per cent of all workers have gone to work with a hangover at least once, the research also revealed –  with male workers more likely to drink heavily on a work night than their female counterparts.

“The health dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, from organ damage to a weakening of the body’s immune system, have been well publicised, but the impact of lost productivity to UK plc is often overlooked,” said Mike Blake, a Willis PMI Group director.

“This study reveals binge drinking is costing British business dear and fires a warning shot across the bows of managers and HR departments. Employers would be wise to address the issue by reviewing their workplace culture and conditions to ensure they’re not inadvertently stoking the flames of alcohol misuse,” he added.

Just 16 per cent of the employees surveyed said that their employer offers health advice on alcohol consumption, though Blake argued that this is key to combating the problem.

“Tackling the drinking habits of employees can be challenging, but advice and guidance on attitudes towards alcohol and sensible drinking can be included in a company’s health and wellbeing strategy,” Blake said.

For small business owners looking to encourage a healthier attitude to drinking within their workplace, HR expert Richard Summerfield recently argued in an article for Business Advice that setting the right example is key. “Let people see you eating and drinking sensibly, putting a priority on your own health,” he wrote.

“Be careful with drinking too much alcohol – you may need to check the mirror first before encouraging people down a path of self-awareness and self-control,” Summerfield continued.

Looking for a way of motivating your employees which doesn’t involve a trip to the pub? Check out these suggestions.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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