Alcoholism in the Workplace: The Hidden Costs for Employers

Alcoholism in the Workplace

Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are not just personal issues; they also have significant impacts on the workplace. From increased absenteeism to on-the-job accidents, the effects can ripple throughout an organization. As a manager or co-worker, recognizing and addressing these issues is vital for maintaining a healthy and productive work environment.


Absenteeism is one of the most noticeable consequences of alcoholism in the workplace. Studies estimate that alcoholics and alcohol abusers are absent from work four to eight times more often than their colleagues. This absenteeism isn’t limited to the individuals struggling with alcohol; family members of alcoholics also tend to have higher rates of absenteeism. Additionally, accidents and injuries on the job are more prevalent among those with alcohol problems, posing risks to both the affected individual and their co-workers.

Identifying alcohol-related issues among employees can be challenging. Sometimes the signs are subtle, such as missed deadlines, incomplete work, or strained relationships with colleagues. However, there are also physical indicators like the smell of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, or tremors that may signal a problem. As a manager or co-worker, it’s essential to approach these situations with empathy and understanding.

Offer Support

Your role in addressing alcohol-related issues is not to diagnose but to support and guide affected employees. Encouraging them to seek help through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or similar support services is crucial. These programs offer short-term counseling, assessment, and referrals for various personal problems, including alcohol and drug abuse, mental health issues, financial concerns, and more. Importantly, these services are confidential and staffed by professional counselors, ensuring employees feel safe seeking assistance.

Providing support for employees struggling with alcoholism or alcohol abuse isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s also beneficial for the organization. By addressing these issues head-on, employers can mitigate the negative impacts on productivity, morale, and overall company performance. Moreover, offering support programs like EAPs can enhance employee retention and loyalty, ultimately contributing to a healthier and more successful workplace culture.

For employers who don’t currently have an EAP or similar program in place, now is the time to consider implementing one. Investing in the mental health and well-being of employees not only fulfills corporate social responsibility but also makes good business sense. By providing the necessary resources and support, organizations can create environments where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to overcome life’s challenges, including alcoholism. In doing so, everyone benefits – from the individual seeking help to the entire workforce and the organization as a whole.