How alcohol fits with workplace wellness
The workplace is recognised by the World Health Organisation as playing an important role in promoting health.1 Encouraging wellness in the workplace is beneficial for both employees, who appreciate their wellness being considered, and employers, who recognise the business benefits in terms of productivity, recruitment and retention.
Workplace wellness programmes typically involve elements focusing on mental health, physical wellness, good nutrition and improved sleep. Alcohol misuse has wide-ranging impacts on each of these areas but is not often a featured component of employee wellness programmes or initiatives.
Why alcohol should be a part of workplace wellness
Alcohol misuse can contribute to the development of mental health difficulties and worsen existing mental health problems. Alcohol is a factor in more than half of all suicides in Ireland.2
Alcohol is known as a modifiable risk factor for at least seven types of cancer including liver cancer, bowel cancer and breast cancer.3 Regular drinking, particularly drinking more than the low-risk weekly guidelines, is also linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stomach disorders.
Alcohol is high in calories and sugar, which contributes to Ireland’s growing problem of overweight and obesity. In fact, one gram of alcohol contains seven calories. This is almost the same as pure fat (nine calories).
Alcohol can have a negative effect on sleep quality. This can result in tiredness and reduced energy the next day. This in turn makes a person less likely to engage in physical activity and can impact productivity at work.
Alcohol’s impact on the workplace
- The estimated cost for extra hours worked or days off due to others’ drinking is €122,598,5694
- 21% of Irish adults sometimes feel they should cut down on their drinking5
- Only 2% of Irish adults know the HSE low-risk weekly alcohol guidelines6
- Almost half (48%) of Irish drinkers are drinking at a level that puts their health at risk7
- 1 in 7 Irish workers surveyed had suffered work-related problems from co-workers’ drinking8
These findings show that there is an interest in drinking less, but the knowledge of the true impact of drinking habits is lacking. Our range of workplace wellness options including workshops can contribute to a healthier workplace for all.
1 Healthy workplaces: a WHO global model for action https://www.who.int/occupational_health/healthy_workplaces/en/
2 Bedford D, O’Farrell A, Howell F. Blood alcohol levels in persons who died from accidents and suicide. Irish Medical Journal. 2006 Mar;99(3):80-83. https://europepmc.org/article/med/16700260
3 Modifiable risk factors and cancer in Ireland. National Cancer Registry Ireland, 2020. https://www.ncri.ie/sites/ncri/files/pubs/NCRI_Risk%20factors%20Report%2006102020.pdf
4, 8 Hope A, Barry J & Byrne S. (2018). The untold story: Harms experienced in the Irish population due to others’ drinking. Dublin: Health Service Executive. Download here
5, 6, 7 The Drinkware Index 2019: Analysing Hazardous Drinking in Ireland. Dublin: Drinkaware. http://drinkaware.ie/research/drinkaware-research-reports/