Sometimes, doing the right thing can also deliver a great ROI.
In Part 1 of this article, we talked about dealing with employees and co-workers as people, not just resources. And, since so many people in the workplace struggle with alcohol abuse, it makes sense for leaders to address those issues in their organizations.
There are many reasons to consider the business impact of alcohol abuse and provide a proactive program to help employees. Including strong financial justification for companies to do just that.
Alcohol problems are among the most common and costly health conditions affecting Americans, and the impact to the nation’s economy is estimated at $185 billion yearly. Yet, research shows that many businesses have not examined the costs of undetected and untreated alcohol problems on their bottom lines. (The Alcohol Cost Calculator)
Studies have discovered the following facts about workers dealing with substance abuse issues:
- They are 33 percent less productive than co-workers and twice as likely to have missed 2 or more days of work in the past month.
- They make up to 40 percent of industrial fatalities and nearly half of all workers’ compensation claims, and they are 3 times more likely to use medical benefits.
- On average, they cost their employers $7000 annually. (“What Does Alcohol & Drug Use Cost Your Business?”, DWI Resource Center)
The Benefits of Alcohol Awareness Programs
Efforts to lessen the impact of alcohol on business do not have to be expensive, and they can bring great returns. In addition to financial benefits, there are many other aspects of the business impact of alcohol abuse, and proactive awareness programs can:
- Provide a valuable benefit program for employees.
- Increase morale by establishing a culture of openness.
- Use recovery training to make employees better at their jobs.
- Retain the experience of good employees and proven leaders.
- Prevent workplace problems before they impact other employees.
- Avoid issues with customers or suppliers and avert possible law suits.
- Possibly save the employee’s career, their family, and perhaps their lives.
Helping Employees—People—One at a Time
Alcohol awareness programs can help many people, but the impact is best appreciated one person at a time. This week, I got an email from a friend who related this personal story:
Years ago, while working for a large corporation, I was selected for one of those courtesy interviews when you talk to upper management about your career plans. I remember that executive well, and he seemed a very nice man. In a way that showed he was really interested, he said, “Your manager mentioned that sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. Why do you think that is?”
At the time, it didn’t occur to me that his question had anything to do with my drinking, because I didn’t think I had a problem. I didn’t drink every day and never drank at home alone, only on the weekends when I was going out.
Years later, after being in recovery for a while, I thought about that executive and my manager. I wondered if they knew I had issues with alcohol but felt they couldn’t say anything about it. Who knows, maybe if I could have opened up and they had urged me to get help, things would had turned out differently than they did.
Every employee is a person, and some of them are struggling, so great leaders include a focus on the emotional well-being of the people in their care. That is good business, and it can save lives as well. (“What Kind of Leader Will You Be?)
Effective Alcohol Awareness Programs
Alcohol awareness programs should be thoughtfully designed to address substance abuse issues in an effective manner. If you are willing to make a difference, here is what your company can do:
1. Set clear policies and enforce them with grace and compassion.
- Train the management team to deal empathetically with issues.
- Make anonymous, off-site counseling available for employees.
2. Understand that alcoholism is a disease and should be treated as such.
- Provide material that outlines the risk and severity of alcohol abuse.
- Treat it as a progressive disease that must be dealt with before it gets worse.
3. Provide lifestyle education programs to help prevent and deal with alcohol abuse.
- Hold on-site seminars for the organization and individual departments.
- Provide a voluntary parenting seminar on how to protect teens from addiction.
4. Build a leadership culture that includes getting involved, but not enabling.
- Create an open environment so employees can safely bring issues forward.
- For those with problems, hold them accountable to engage in recovery.
The business impact of alcohol abuse is significant. The effects on people’s lives: devastating!
The good news is that there are things you can do to help.
Question: Are you willing to be an advocate for alcohol awareness in your company?
Action: Commit to show more empathy for those around you who may be hurting.