Alcohol and work – a good mix this festive season?

Alcohol Awareness week was 16th-22nd November and it’s got us thinking about the potential pitfalls of alcohol in the workplace. Christmas is fast approaching, and with it also are the Christmas parties, festive lunches and the merry evenings out celebrating. Alcohol can be an unwelcome Christmas addition to any office. Are you primed for the impact it may have at this time of year on your employees and your business?

We’re not trying to dampen the festive spirit here. It’s great to see employees letting their hair down, bonding over a mince pie and some mulled wine. But as an employer or HR professional, consider the potential issues which could arise from the prominence of alcohol during the holiday season.

During Christmas, drinks on a ‘work night’ are a regular occurrence. It’s more socially acceptable to overindulge and drink more than the recommended daily amount. Some employees may find themselves waking up the next morning, over the drink driving limit and could also struggle to perform at work. This can have serious consequences on your business outcomes.

And consider the Christmas lunch – its customary to order a glass of wine or two whilst out with colleagues as we approach the holidays. The effects of a boozy lunch could have repercussions on an afternoon’s work: more unproductive, increased likelihood of mistakes, poor customer service or worse.

The office Christmas party is the perfect opportunity to reward your employees for their hard work throughout the year. Although most people will be on their best behavior, there may be those that get carried away and act inappropriately.

Here are our top 5 tips to manage the impact alcohol can have on your business this festive season:

  1. Ensure your rules are clear on alcohol both in and out of the office – make sure employees know the rules on lunchtime drinking.
  2. Remind staff a Christmas party is a work event – the usual code of conduct does apply. Brief managers on the correct procedures should any injuries, accidents, harassment or inappropriate comments arise.
  3. Get colleagues to pre-plan their transport home – book taxis, coaches or overnight accommodation to avoid any issues with getting home or the temptation to drink-drive.
  4. It’s also useful to remember that you shouldn’t make the party a compulsory event – not everyone celebrates Christmas and some employees may have other responsibilities during the evening such as childcare which prevent them attending.
  5. Keep an eye out for persistent drinking – it could be a sign of problems at home. Long-term drinking can lead to social, psychological and medical problems for employees, which can have a negative impact on your business as well as their mental and physical wellbeing. Put procedures in place so you can deal with these situations effectively

Christmas is the perfect excuse for many to enjoy an extra tipple, or two! And as an employer you have a responsibility to set clear expectations and ensure it doesn’t get out of hand. But, the most important thing is to enjoy and take the opportunity to celebrate the festive season with your employees.


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