Sobriety isn’t something all employees can stick to. No matter how diligent an employee appears to be, it is always possible they have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Whether binge drinking at the weekend or daily drinking, whether before, during, or after work, alcohol abuse in the workplace can lead to many problems, including decreased productivity, increased safety risks, and strained relationships between coworkers.
Recognizing the warning signs of alcohol abuse in employees is important for managers and supervisors, so you can prevent negative outcomes. Here are four signs that someone in the workplace may struggle with alcohol.
NOTE: The event below, Arts Alive 25, was held on September 8, 2023.
Decreased Job Performance
One of the most common signs of alcohol abuse in the workplace is decreased job performance. This can manifest in many ways, such as tardiness, absenteeism, missed deadlines, or poor decision-making. Alcohol abuse can also affect an individual’s ability to concentrate and remember important details, leading to mistakes and errors on the job.
Changes in Behavior
Drinking too much regularly often leads to changes in behavior. For example, an employee may become more irritable, argumentative, or aggressive when under the influence ofalcohol. They may also become more withdrawn or isolated from their coworkers, avoiding social situations or interactions they would normally enjoy. Changes in behavior can also include physical symptoms, such as tremors, sweating, or slurred speech.
Alcohol abuse can strain relationships between coworkers, leading to conflicts, misunderstandings, and mistrust. Individuals struggling with alcohol abuse may have difficulty communicating effectively with their colleagues. This may cause misunderstandings or misinterpretations of their intentions. They may also become defensive or hostile when confronted about their behavior, further damaging their relationships with coworkers.
One of the biggest issues with someone who drinks excessively is increased safety risks. When under the influence of alcohol or extremely hungover, individuals may make poor decisions that put themselves and others at risk. They may also be more prone to accidents or injuries, particularly if their job involves operating heavy machinery or driving. Additionally, alcohol abuse can impair an individual’s judgment and coordination, making it more difficult for them to respond appropriately in emergencies.
If you suspect that someone in your workplace is struggling with alcohol abuse, it’s important to approach the situation with compassion and understanding. Rather than confronting the individual directly, consider speaking with a manager or HR representative to develop a plan for addressing the issue. This may involve offering support resources, such as an employee assistance program or counseling services, or implementing policies to address alcohol abuse in the workplace.
Drug and alcohol testing can help identify people with a problem, but it’s important to treat this as an opportunity to help that person rather than a reason to sack them.
Recognizing the signs of alcohol abuse in the workplace is essential for maintaining a safe and productive work environment. By being aware of the warning signs and taking proactive steps to address them, employers and employees can work together to promote a workplace wellness and safety culture.