Alcohol Abuse Costs Business Without Exception
Active alcoholism appears in the workplace in many different ways. The more obvious presence is in the form of absenteeism for a heavy drinker. Your model employee may not start out as a big drinker and sometimes it is hard to tell there is a problem initially. When the problem develops over time, you may start to see the physical signs of hangovers, then tardiness to work and eventually this grows into missed days at work.
What about the family member of the alcoholic? Perhaps your model employee is not the one with the drinking problem. Husbands, wives and children of alcoholics unfortunately bear the brunt as a caretaker and are often forced to take time off from work to run a loved one to the emergency room or play nurse at home. Most hospital administrators will agree that addition to drugs and alcohol more often show up in their hospitals as broken bones, car accidents, pancreatitis, gastric distress and cardiovascular disease. All of these conditions mean missed time at work for the alcoholic and often someone caring for the alcoholic. For the employer, there is a big cost to covering someone’s shifts, missed deadlines and the diminishing morale of the teammates that have to pick up the slack.
Absenteeism and tardiness are measurable and often good signals for a supervisor or manager to confront the employee missing work. What about identifying the signs of alcoholism when the timeclock is not raising the red flag?
Reduced Performance & Productivity Costs Money
If you have ever had a hangover, you know it is not fun. Physically the symptoms of a headache, nausea and dizziness may not be severe enough for an employee to miss work. But the performance at work while nursing the hangover will certainly take its toll. Lack of focus and distorted vision are very common side effects of alcohol abuse. Tasks that may normally take an hour to complete often take a much longer period of time to perform. Misunderstanding instructions may also cause your employee to underperform, cause critical errors and be the reason for administrative blunders that costs your company money to correct.
It is not unusual for an employee with advanced alcoholism to come to work while still under the influence of alcohol from the night before. Per the National Institute of Health, even a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.05 g/dl (equivalent of 2 drinks) will impair a worker’s psychomotor skills and cognitive processes such as perception and judgement. Not only does this place your employee at a safety risk, other employees that work around the intoxicated employee are at risk too. Should someone get hurt on the job as the result of a drunk employee, the business owner may be liable for damages. The costs for workman’s compensation can be crippling to a business.
Let’s highlight the major issues of:
- Absenteeism / Sick Leave / Tardiness
- Increased Injuries / Accident Rates
- Loss of Productivity and Missed Deadlines
Because these incidences can be associated to tangible costs to a business. This article from The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence lists some of the intangible complications of alcoholism in the workplace.
Productivity Losses Due to Alcoholism
Very few businesses are spared the effects of alcoholism in the workplace. Use this Alcoholism Cost Calculator to discover about how many of your employees might be affected by alcohol abuse:
Excessive drinking is a drain to the US Economy with 72% of the total costs attributed to losses in workplace productivity.
Alcohol and Drug Policy – Do You Have One?
One way to keep workers safe is through a comprehensive Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy. The goal of this policy is to maintain a work environment that is free from the adverse effects of drugs and alcohol.
Alcohol & Drug Abuse Education for Employees is a Must
Once the policy is in place, the next step is to educate your workforce about the dangers of working with co-workers who abuse alcohol and help them see the signs of an alcoholic employee. Your policy should include an anonymous reporting system for management to be made aware and to support both the person reporting issues and those identified as potential problem drinkers. We recommend you reassure them that there is help available and that the interests of the employer and the employee with alcoholism are best served by helping the employee get treatment.
If you need help with educating your team through a Lunch and Learn program, contact our team at:
(215) 638-5200 and request our Employer Assistance team.