Boozy business - One in ten South West workers admit going into work still feeling drunk

By Swindon Link - 5 December 2018

HealthBusinessFood & Drink

Almost one in ten (8%) workers in the South West say they have gone to work still feeling drunk after boozy nights out over the past 12 months.

  • Mike Blake, health and wellbeing lead at Willis Towers Watson.

    Mike Blake, health and wellbeing lead at Willis Towers Watson.

According to the new research from Willis Towers Watson (WTW), almost one fifth (17%) of these workers said they have driven to work on these occasions. 

Furthermore, more than one in ten (13%) of workers in the South West have taken sick days in the past 12 months because of hangovers – with one fifth (20%) admitting to bosses that a hangover was the reason for their absence. 

“These findings suggest that far too many people in the South West are putting their safety and wellbeing, and potentially the safety of others, at risk,” said Mike Blake, wellbeing lead at WTW.  

“The human body is only capable of processing, on average, one unit of alcohol per hour. Binge drinking can mean that alcohol remains in the bloodstream many hours later. Those drinking heavily on nights out can consequently be still feeling the effects of their alcohol consumption the next day.

“With Christmas just around the corner and party season starting, the likelihood of workers coming into work still feeling drunk increases. Companies should be looking at what they can do to support workers and educate them on the dangers of excessive drinking on work nights.

“Sensitive advice and guidance on attitudes towards alcohol and sensible drinking, ranging from workshops to intranet resources, for example, can go a long way in helping to foster a responsible workforce culture.”

Just 8% of workers in the region said their employer currently provides staff with any health advice on alcohol consumption. Furthermore, more than one in ten (14%) South West workers said their employer contributed to unhealthy levels of drinking among staff, such as pressuring workers to drink on staff nights out, paying for alcohol on nights out, or encouraging a work hard, play hard culture.

“Alcohol can be employed by some businesses to help them promote a laidback, trendy culture, while for others it is used as a staff reward, with some even hosting onsite bars,” said Blake. “But there can be other, less risky, ways for them to achieve these objectives.

“In addition to the detrimental effect on physical health and wellbeing, frequent and excessive alcohol consumption can also negatively impact the long-term mental health of workers. In some cases, it is used as a crutch to mask deeper psychological problems.”

Blake points out that, alongside their vital duty of care responsibilities, employers should also be mindful of their business bottom line.

The research found that almost one in five (17%) workers in the South West have hangovers on a monthly basis that affect their productivity.

“A failure to discourage or to inadvertently fan the flames of alcohol misuse can seriously jeopardise business performance through alcohol and hangover-induced downturns in energy levels – not to mention other accompanying risks, such as the negative impact to customer relations and business reputations,” added Blake.

“Companies should be setting out to identify if alcohol misuse is a problem among their employees and, where necessary, review and revise wellbeing strategies to establish appropriate support and intervention initiatives.”

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