Managers guide to alcohol and after work drinks

Advice for Managers

Did you know that up to 17 million working days per year are taken off sick due to alcohol related absence, and that 40% of all workplace accidents are linked to intoxication or the after-effects of drinking.

As a manager, you can play an active role in reducing these statistics by understanding your organisation's alcohol at work policy and monitoring your own drinking behaviour to set a model example. 

Drinking above the lower-risk guidelines - whether after work, during days off or between shifts - will affect your employees’ ability to perform well at work – as well as affecting their health.

In addition, during business lunches, corporate events, office parties and client entertainment, there is potentially scope for excessive drinking.

As a manager it is important that you act as a positive role model in situations when alcohol is present. When after-work drinks are involved, it is worth considering the following:

Should I have a drink?

There is no law to say you must drink even if colleagues, clients or others are drinking around you. You can decide to stay sober – this may even help you if the event is actually about gaining business or you want to discuss a work issue with someone, which involves keeping a sharp mind.

Planning on working later on

Even small amounts of alcohol impair judgment and performance and you may be in breach of your organisational alcohol and drug policy if you are under the influence of alcohol and you return to work. As a manager it is your responsibility to be aware and educate your team on the organisational policy on alcohol if anyone is planning to return to work following a drink.

Officially off-duty but still at a work function

Even if you are off duty (ie after working hours) but the event contains colleagues or clients, you are still an ambassador for your organisation and responsible for your own conduct, in addition to the external image and reputation of your organisation. You should also be concerned for the safety of your team, even if the function is not on work premises.    

How much should I drink

If you do choose to drink, the recommended lower-risk guidelines are nto to exceed 14 units per week. Drinking above 6 units on one occasion is known to carry more risk of accidents and injury. As a manager, we’d suggest you should set a good example in drinking responsibly.

Buying drinks for others

It’s common quite often for managers to buy drinks for colleagues or their team, however we would recommend one way to keep drinking at a lower level is to ask for small sizes and lower strength drinks. It may be sensible from time to time to also purchase a non-alcoholic drink for yourself therefore giving permission for others in the team to follow your example.

What should I do if I notice someone acting irresponsibly or drinking too much

This is a judgment call on your part, but depending on how concerned you are, you may want to take the person to one side and raise your concerns. If you are very concerned for their safety you may want to offer to order them a cab to take them home, possibly asking a colleague to help them home.




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