Last updated: September 28, 2020
High workplace morale is often tied to higher productivity, a greater sense of employee pride in their work and less turnover. The emotional and mental condition in a work setting can be one that fosters the ability to weather stressful stretches and hardships. It makes sense, then, to curate that setting carefully.
There are many signs that employees are happy with their jobs and prefer to stay with their employer. For instance, a low turnover rate, workers who are consistently productive, and a low level of conflict tend to indicate healthy workplace morale. Feedback from surveys or informal meetings can help gauge it, but protecting the workplace from factors that act as volatile catalysts is more important than any measurement tactics. Alcohol abuse, even outside the workplace can profoundly impact much more than just morale.
What are alcohol’s affects on the workplace?
Many workers tend to think that what they do on their own time shouldn’t be held against them while they are on the clock. However, the truth is that drinking outside of work can impact performance and attitude on the job. For instance, someone who had too much to drink the night before a morning shift could come to work hungover, which may lower their reaction time or ability to communicate with others.
More than just the physical problems are the potentially damaging emotional factors that result. Alcohol is a depressant. If a hungover or still intoxicated worker is in charge of a heavy machine or has to drive as part of his or her employment, he or she could put other workers or the general public at risk. Workers who may be angry or surly when they are hungover or still intoxicated may be rude to colleagues or to customers who they are supposed to be serving.
Workers who abuse alcohol may decide to stop showing up for work or only come in on certain days. For example, an employee may regularly miss work on a Monday or a Friday to either recover from a weekend of alcohol consumption or get started on the next weekend’s binge a day early. This may strain relations between colleagues because it could result in those who do show up to work taking on that person’s responsibilities.
Prevention better than a cure
It may not be possible to prevent an employee from choosing to introduce an alcohol problem to their lives and as a result, their workplace. Preventing it from damaging the workplace is much easier than trying to course correct after morale has suffered. Like any substance abuse issue, making an alcohol abuse program part of a comprehensive assistance program can show all employees—not just those suffering—that someone cares. The goal for the employee in the program is to get well, while the goal for the company is to keep the work climate healthy.
Accidents and emergencies immediately introduce stress and fear to a place where it’s damaging to productivity and costs. A hospital emergency study showed that while workers with alcohol problems were almost three times as likely to miss work due to an injury, more than a third of admitted occupational emergency patients would be considered “at-risk drinkers”and 16% had alcohol on their breath at work. At least 11% of the time a worker suffered a fatal accident, it was because he or she was drinking.
Workplace morale is fragile and somewhat intangible. Allowing harmful negative factors such as alcohol abuse at a place of work will damage productivity and costs, and one or more of those things can increase the impact exponentially by dropping employee morale. Acting calmly and quickly can signal to employees that their employer is compassionate and their workplace is still safe.