Many people struggle with this dilemma daily. It could be as simple has having wine at a work lunch with colleagues or entertaining clients. A person would conclude that there is no harm in having one or two glasses to be social. But what are the company rules if any regarding the consumption of alcohol during work hours? Another question would be, if a person is on their lunch break, isn’t that time technically theirs to do as they please? Some employees may feel stressed at work and have a drink during their lunch break to relieve the tension. In some cases, employees and even managers don’t even know what the company’s policies are for drinking during work hours.
What if that one drink while at lunch unknowingly affects your judgement, slows down your reflexes or reduces your control? You are now a liability to the company. Depending on your job, you can severely harm someone or yourself while operating equipment, heavy machinery or a moving vehicle such as a forklift. Your harmless drink at lunch can cause potential harm or even death to someone. Let’s also discuss the affects it can have on your productivity. Alcohol consumption can have an adverse effect on people and cause them to slow down drastically or even worse, fall asleep at work.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) in New York City, alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems. Managers should be trained to understand the company’s policies and procedures, to identify employee problems, and to know how to refer employees to help.
Companies may offer employee education and awareness (and promotion of healthy behaviors and stress management techniques). Employees can also reach out to their EAP (Employee Assistance Program) for confidential assistance with a substance abuse problem. EAPs are generally designed to provide free, confidential short-term counseling to help with a variety of job-related and personal problems. This is normally limited to a couple free sessions and is not a long-term solution. The EAP program can refer employees to trained professionals who can help. Employees that suspect that they may have a problem should reach out to their employer before a problem arises.
Managers should be able to identify the signs of drinking on the job, but they should avoid accusing an employee of being under the influence. It is possible that an employee is ill or has taken legal medication prescribed by a doctor that could mimic similar side effects. The only way to be certain is to have the employee take a blood alcohol test. Many companies also have random drug and alcohol testing. Meaning, at any point during the day, an employee can be called to submit to testing. What if it was the day that you decided to take one harmless drink? Would it be worth it?
If you or someone you know has a drug or alcohol problem, please seek immediate professional help. Get help