Want to know what your employees think about alcohol? Ask!

Lauren Booker | July 2020 | 6 minutes

If your organisation thrives on corporate hospitality, a high-energy workforce or a work-hard-play-hard culture, the current situation with COVID-19 may shine a light on an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

If your organisation thrives on corporate hospitality, a high-energy workforce or a work-hard-play-hard culture, the current situation with COVID-19 may shine a light on an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been asked by a huge variety of organisations to deliver webinars and training around employee wellbeing and alcohol. Without exception, employees have expressed concern about the workplace alcohol culture.

Two recurring themes have come up:

  1. I’m used to drinking most days as part of my job and now I’m at home, I want to cut down
  2. I’m expected to socialise as part of my job and I don’t want to drink so much when I go back to work, what can I do?

These are both experiences that, as an employer, you have the power to influence for the better. I often speak to HR and senior managers who tell me that their workplace’s culture is one of the attractions of the job and that drinking is allowed, even encouraged, as part of the corporate lifestyle. Taking that away, strengthening the alcohol policy or banning booze altogether as part of the working environment would, they say, be unpopular and deleterious to workforce morale. But how true is this?

A simple survey asking employees how they feel about their alcohol use at home and at work, or better still a consultation on your alcohol policy and practices, may show unexpected results.

If you want to know what your workforce thinks – ask! A simple survey asking employees how they feel about their alcohol use at home and at work, or better still a consultation on your alcohol policy and practices, may show unexpected results. I’ve worked with many executives who are concerned about the response of colleagues or bosses if they start refusing drinks. My response is always the same – look around the room and I bet you’ll see others ordering just a tonic, or sipping on a fruit juice.

As an employer, you can give your employees a choice, a free choice, in whether to drink or not. Offering a range of drinks with realistic alcohol-free alternatives (not just sparkling or still) and arranging events that don’t centre around the bar will go a long way to enabling staff to choose whether to drink or not. While many people are still on furlough or home-working, now is a good time to find out what kind of alcohol culture your staff want when they return to work.

Now is a good time to find out what kind of alcohol culture your staff want when they return to work.

Finding out what might be concerning your staff and then offering tailored support and guidance is a good way to ensure a happy, productive workforce. Strategies that you implement now to support your team’s wellbeing will pay dividends when the world starts to return to normal.

To get you started, why not encourage staff to download our free app, Try Dry, which will help your staff to monitor their consumption. Plus you can encourage them to visit the Alcohol Change UK website for tips, information and advice, as well as a handy quiz to work out whether their current drinking levels may be putting them at risk.

If you think your staff would benefit from tips and ideas on more mindful drinking, we’d be happy to deliver a bespoke, interactive webinar to complement your wellbeing offer. Or if you’d like to find out more about how your workplace drinking culture is perceived by your employees, get in touch to find out more about our workplace alcohol audit.