The Impact of Alcohol and Drug Misuse in the Workplace

July 3, 2014 11:02 am Published by

New research on the Impact of Alcohol and Drug Misuse on Productivity in the Workplace Reveals Inconsistencies in Knowledge and Approach

Iloumanate and Bowden2 HR recently joined forces with the aim of providing help and support to businesses in relation to substance use in the workplace and the problems it causes for employers. Iloumanate is a company which is at the forefront of using the internet to tackle alcohol problems and change the drinking culture and Bowden 2 is an HR consultancy business.

The data describing these problems – financial costs, loss of productivity, managerial and health and employment issues – are well documented elsewhere eg. BMA Occupational Medicine Committee, February 2014. However, the majority of reports on the topic are written from an objective observer’s perspective. Investigations from the viewpoint of the employers are few and far between.

This survey canvassed the opinions of senior HR professionals (mostly directors or managers) about the effect of alcohol and drugs in the workplace and their response. The survey revealed some glaring inconsistencies.

Recently published government statistics put the cost of alcohol abuse to industry at around £7.3bn per annum, through loss of productivity resulting from absenteeism, presenteeism (at work but impaired through intoxication or hangover), replacement costs, accidents, rectifying mistakes, long term sickness and death. The majority of the current participants (76%) agreed that substance use was a problem for employers but this number reduced considerably (33%) when asked if their own organisation had a problem.

• Only 12% said that they knew how much substance use cost their organisation – although no one could offer an actual estimate of the cost.
• Despite agreeing that training on alcohol and drug issues would be beneficial for managers (64%) few (21%) actually provided it.
• When asked what training topics might be helpful, suggestions mostly centred around recognition and dealing with problems.
• Only 8% of respondents said that they provided any kind of training or education for the workforce. The only example given was “Only by way of the notice board”.

55% felt their organisations could save money if they addressed substance use.

Building on the HR professionals’ responses to this survey we make the following recommendations
• Help organisations who do not have an alcohol or drug policy to create one
• Provide a white paper discussing the business case for addressing substance use
• Help organisations benchmark the costs of substance use
• Provide training for managers
• Provide educational materials and Brief Interventions for workforce
• Advice line for managers

For further information please contact us

Dr John McMahon – 01392 422041
Jennifer Bowden – 01435 868718

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This post was written by Deborah Leek-Bailey