Addressing alcoholism in the workplace

Are you concerned that alcoholism may be present in your workplace? Have you spotted your employees consuming alcohol at work? Maybe you’ve identified key signs of alcoholism? Or maybe you’re highly concerned that unhealthy drinking habits may impact your workplace?

Dealing with alcoholism in general can be very difficult. It is a sensitive point to discuss and work through. With this in mind, working through alcoholism in the workplace can be challenging, embarrassing and commonly unwelcomed by those affected.

However, if you do believe alcohol abuse or addiction is present in your workplace, you do have the right to protect your company and additional employees. In unison, it is likely that you’ll feel a duty of care towards your employee, with the desire to help them through this difficult time of alcoholism.

If so, addressing alcoholism in the workplace can be tough, but also rewarding; helping your employee recover and progress through life. See our guidance on addressing behavioural habits and drinking problems effectively.

What is the difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism?

Before addressing alcoholism, it is important that you understand the difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Alcohol abuse can become dangerous. It is the starting point of addiction, tipping the scale of common alcohol consumption. Alcohol abuse is where a physical dependence is present, which is commonly easier to treat.

However, alcoholism is much harder to recover from, down to the psychological dependence, present on alcohol. This is where high concerns are present for both your employee and workplace. If an alcohol addiction is experienced, it is likely that this will make its way into your workplace; affecting factors such as workplace performance, professional relationships and company reputation.

With this in mind, as an employer, it is important that you differentiate between both alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Abuse can be worked through alone, and sometimes, with personal control, can diminish before lasting damage is caused. However, alcoholism is dangerous, and will likely change the behaviour, the health and the performance of your employee.

See below how long-term alcoholism can impact your workplace, along with ways of addressing behavioural habits.

The damaging effects of alcoholism in the workplace

Alongside the concerns of alcoholism on a user’s physical and mental health, there are many damaging effects, possibly experienced by the workplace at hand.

One of the key effects of alcoholism on a person is their mental health and ability to continue as normal. Long-term alcohol abuse or addiction is likely to impair that ability, reducing workplace performance. This can impact the quality of work completed, time management and professionalism. If alcoholism is in your workplace, you’ll need processes in place to share out the work and reduce pressure on those suffering.

A further area of your workplace which can be impacted by alcoholism is absences. Living with an alcohol addiction can be very difficult. From withdrawal and side effects, to the potential health problems experienced, absences will increase. This in turn will reduce your workforce, while also reducing the scope of work completed. Employing more staff or sharing out the workload may again be required to overcome this result of alcoholism.

Alcohol abuse or alcoholism can also cause concern for health and safety measures. Accidents or injuries are highly linked to drinking on the job. This is worrying, especially in physical and active workplaces. Addressing alcoholism in the workplace, sooner, rather than later is vital to protect your whole team.

It is also important to remember that how you address alcoholism can impact your workplaces future. If you follow a judgmental, unsupportive approach, this may damage your reputation, along with reducing additional employee commitment. With this in mind, compassion and an effective employee assistance programme should be implemented when addressing alcoholism in the workplace.

Addressing alcoholism in the workplace effectively

For the best possible result for both your employee and company, there are active steps to take when addressing alcoholism in the workplace.

Whether you currently suspect signs of alcoholism or not, we firstly recommend ensuring that a workplace policy is in place to help address any possible episodes. This will help you deal with alcoholism or mental health issues, in the workplace, through a fair, supportive and proactive process. This policy should be created with the HR department, prioritising the wellbeing of employees.

From here, if you do suspect alcoholism, it is important that you take the next steps with care, compassion and sensitivity. Here we recommend sharing your concerns with the affected employee. Although this may initially be unwelcomed, it is important that you show support while reducing workplace pressure. It is also advised that at this point, family members are kept in the loop, with the aim to promote intervention.

Once concerns have been communicated, sharing the next best steps of alcohol rehab and addiction treatment programmes will be encouraged. This intervention will hopefully encourage those suffering with alcoholism to take the first step and recover. If addiction treatment is accepted, we recommend supporting your employee through the whole process, along with pausing workplace responsibilities and communication. This is a time of recovery, while also rebuilding your workplace.

With the aim to reduce future episodes, we do recommend addressing alcoholism in the workplace. By this, we recommend promoting an open-door policy, along with sharing the support available through your workplace. Whether that’s recommending support groups, to increasing workplace mental health, this active attempt to address and work through alcoholism will be valued.

Professional referrals at Rehab Clinics Group

If you’re struggling to address alcoholism internally, Rehab Clinics Group accept professional referrals. the appreciate how support may be initially turned down by your employee. This is usually down to embarrassment or a lack of addiction knowledge.

Rehab Clinics Group’s team will aim to change their mind and encourage addiction treatment, with the motive to rebuild their lives and career. If addressing alcoholism in the workplace is your motive, they can help you, offering specialist alcohol rehab programmes. Get in touch today for specialist advice on alcoholism in the workplace.

Article written by John Gillen, contact: john@rehabclinicsgroup.com

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