Last updated: September 28, 2020
The stress of a working environment impacts employees in different ways, depending on their personalities. Some are energized by the constant activity, while others feel drained and begin to self-medicate with alcohol. What might start as a cocktail at lunch or a few beers on the weekend can soon escalate into alcohol abuse, including drunkenness in the office. Because of the obvious damage this dependency can have on productivity and safety, employers must always be aware of how alcohol is pushed upon workers, when they are most likely to consume it and how alcohol testing can reduce the problem.
Business itself is often greased by alcoholic beverages. In meetings held in restaurants or bars, it’s common and even expected for attendees to order a drink. It helps friends and acquaintances alike relax and become more amenable to reaching an agreement. However, it can also lead to foolish decisions and foster dependence if these meetings are long or frequent. Encourage employees in this situation to order something that looks like a drink but is not, such as seltzer water with a lime, to fit in without becoming drunk.
By the middle of the day, many office workers are feeling worn down and ready to go home. A quick trip to the bar may seem like the perfect pick-me-up, despite the fact that alcohol is a depressant drug. One drink may not do much harm, but one too many will cut that employee’s output until it’s time to go home. This is one of the most common and serious instances of drinking within a company because of its direct negative impact on the business. Testing for alcohol periodically will reduce the number of individuals returning from lunch with an elevated blood-alcohol level.
An alcoholic will not limit him- or herself to drinking at lunch. Once the day is done, it’s time to relax again either at home or at a bar. These may be the employees who are at the door the moment the clock strikes five, grabbing their coat and fleeing for the street. Drinking after hours is not as much of a concern as the previous examples, but if done regularly it will have an adverse effect on a person’s health and performance. It is a clear sign of alcohol addiction and, if brought to the attention of a supervisor, should be monitored in case it begins to disrupt the individual’s work habits.
On the Weekends
Even those without an alcohol dependency like to unwind on the weekends with some social drinking. Watching a sports game while drinking beer, hosting a barbecue or going to a local night club to dance and socialize are all normal ways for people to relax. When done in moderation, this is rarely an issue for businesses. We are not suggesting policing what your employees do on their own time, but we do suggest being curiously engaged with them can give you insights before those issues arises. You don’t want to wait until your workers start to stumble in hung-over, but if you do that merits disciplinary action, having a properly written policy can assure you’re within your legal rights. The weekend is meant to be a time of rejuvenation, family and personal time but not extreme partying, but, if someone insists on imbibing, this is the best time of the week to do it.
Alcohol Testing in the Office
When employees coming into the office drunk becomes a real problem, there are only a few options for concerned managers. Fired or disciplined employees often dispute claims of intoxication, and it turns into a matter of untenable hearsay. A scientific test, on the other hand, offers indisputable proof of a person’s blood-alcohol level. Offices should check all local regulations before administering such a test, as there are usually limits on when one can be given and what can be done with the results. Like breathalyzers given at roadside stops, alcohol tests measure only recent consumption, offering a clear picture of an individual’s drinking habits while at work.
Alcohol is just like any other drug in that it impedes function and has no place in a business. Many employers focus on the illegal substances like marijuana, but alcohol use is far more common and can be even more damaging to profits. By understanding what drives workers to drink and encouraging a sober environment, managers can improve their performance with minimal cost while also helping their quality of life.
People shouldn’t choose to use alcohol in moderation because it is against some employer’s policy or law. They should choose it because the limiting effect of addiction on your right and freedom to choose. When you are addicted to any substance your ability to make decision is impaired, therefor so is your personal freedom.