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A fifth blame employers for excessive drinking

As Christmas approaches organisations have a responsibility to educate staff about the dangers of heavy drinking

One in five (19%) workers say their employers contributed to unhealthy levels of drinking through encouraging alcohol consumption during staff nights out and promoting a ‘work hard play hard' culture, according to Willis Towers Watson.

Its research showed that young workers are twice as likely as their colleagues aged 35 and older to come into work still feeling drunk (24% compared to 12%) – and that older workers who do come in hungover are less likely to drive into work than younger workers on these occasions (44% and 50% respectively).

In addition, 25% of 18- to 34-year-olds have taken sick days in the past 12 months because of hangovers. This compares with just 13% of those aged 35 and older.

Just one in 10 (11%) workers said their employer currently provides staff with any health advice on alcohol consumption.

Mike Blake, director of health and benefits GB and wellbeing lead at Willis Towers Watson, warned that excessive drinking is a safety risk for young staff: “These alarming findings suggest that far too many of Britain’s youth are putting their safety and wellbeing, and potentially the safety of others, at risk,” he said.

“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."

Organisations that do not discourage binge drinking also risk damage to their business, Blake added: “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 on customer relations and business reputations.”

As Christmas approaches organisations have a responsibility to educate staff about the dangers of heavy drinking, and review wellbeing policies to establish proper support for alcohol misuse, Blake said.

“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.”

The research was conducted among 2,000 permanently-employed UK adults.