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 on businesses is often overlooked.
Employers can ill afford to ignore the issue however with a recent study by Willis PMI Group highlighting the extent of the problem, particularly among younger workers.
Almost one in five (17 per cent) 18 to 34-year-olds have admitted going to work with a hangover that has caused them to be less productive on at least 30 occasions in the past 12 months. What’s more, more than a quarter (26 per cent) in this age group claimed their employer contributes to unhealthy levels of drinking.
In addition to the productivity hit caused by hangovers, alcohol-related sick days are estimated to cost employers around £1.7bn1. As a consequence, businesses should consider taking steps to identify whether or not alcohol is causing a problem to their employees’ health and to business productivity.
HR records on sickness absence, productivity, accidents and disciplinaries may offer helpful insights into this process. Managers can also be trained, where necessary, to recognise problems and pinpoint trends.
Some companies, particularly those operating in high risk and safety-critical industries, use screening and testing to identify and control alcohol misuse. General employee health checks however can also help by providing early warnings to developing conditions. Such checks can cover everything from ECG, blood pressure and cholesterol test to lung and liver function, providing an accurate picture of the overall health of the subject.