Addressing Alcohol in the Workplace

05/05/2021

Candidate

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many people struggled with alcohol. After more than a year of lockdowns, uncertainty, isolation, and more, its use has risen significantly.

It’s no surprise considering that alcohol can feel like an escape. However, it’s also a depressant that slows down the transmission of messages from the brain to the body. At the same time, it impacts judgement, concentration, reaction times, and problem-solving abilities.

This can be a problem at home and a safety hazard on the job. For instance, it can:

Impact your behavior.

Alcohol can cause people to pull away from their peers and colleagues, developing anti-social behaviors that cause interpersonal conflicts at work. It also increases the risk of saying something inappropriate or unprofessional while at work, which can harm your reputation and your co-workers’ view of you.

Impacts safety.

If you operate a vehicle or machinery for work, using alcohol can cause a crash or accident. It can also lead to slips, trips, or falls that can be especially dangerous due to slowed reaction times. Not only could you get injured, but your behavior could cause harm to a co-worker if you’re not following proper safety protocols.

Impacts productivity.

Heavy drinking can impact your ability to think and get work done. If you drink the night before and are hungover at work, it can cause you to feel sick, shaky, and have headaches, as well as nausea, taking away from your productivity in the process. It’s also easier to make mistakes or overlook errors, causing problems with your work performance.

Impacts your health.

Long-term use of alcohol can cause problems to your physical health over time. There are many different alcohol-related illnesses, including liver disease, some kinds of cancer, stroke, cardiovascular issues, and more. There are also mental health issues that can be triggered by alcohol use, including depression and anxiety.

Certain individuals are more prone to misusing alcohol than others. There are also higher patterns of alcohol abuse in different industries, including hospitality, agriculture, retail, the trades, financial services, construction, and mining.

In addition, issues in the workplace can contribute to problems with alcohol. These include long work hours or shifts, interpersonal conflicts, such as bullying and harassment, problems with job satisfaction and stress, and workplace restructuring and concerns about job security.

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