Helping employers manage alcohol and other drug-related issues

August 2020

In recognition of NCETA’s 20+ years international reputation in the area of Workplace AOD research, Professor Ann Roche was recently invited by Ireland’s Alcohol Forum – Workplace Health and Wellbeing Programme to present a webinar on Alcohol and other drugs in the workplace…what employers need to know.

The hour-long webinar conducted on 15 July 2020 was aimed at employers / managers / supervisors / human resource personnel / employee representative bodies. It focused on:

  • The factors i.e., workplace customs and practices, workplace conditions, and external and control factors that contribute to AOD use
  • Workplace AOD policies as a key strategy for employers
  • The costs (including absenteeism, presenteeism and injury) of workers’ AOD use on businesses
  • High-risk (for AOD use) workforce groups e.g., young male blue-collar workers
  • The impact of COVID-19 on workers’ alcohol consumption including a recent research finding that women working from home and who are home schooling children during the pandemic, appear to be at risk of increased alcohol consumption, whereas men appear to be drinking less
  • Examples of practical strategies that workplaces can adopt to respond to AOD-related issues e.g., formal policies, employee education / awareness, supervisor training and employee assistance / referral to services.

Participants were provided with the following key ‘take home’ messages:

  1. No one ‘size fits all’ – a range of tailored strategies may be necessary
  2. Employee involvement focusing on consultation, is important in the development and implementation of strategies
  3. Workplace AOD strategies must:
    1. Adopt a ‘whole-of-workplace’ approach
    2. Fit with day-to-day production processes / priorities
    3. Address contemporary challenges and circumstances.

One of the groups participating in the webinar i.e., the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce found the information about the costs of AOD-related absenteeism to businesses to be particularly relevant from them and their members. They also used the webinar to remind their members about the importance of AOD workplace policies by asking them to either develop a policy or to review and update existing policies.

To find out more about NCETA’s workplace research program go to the NCETA website.