Alcohol an Increasing Workplace Problem

May 7, 2008 ( - One in three employees has been to work with a hangover while more than one in 10 has been drunk at their desk, according to a poll.

The survey of 1,000 people and 250 businesses by Norwich Union Healthcare in the U.K. found 32% had been to work with a hangover and 15% had been drunk at work. According to a release of survey results from the Press Association, one in 10 respondents said these incidences happened at least once a month while one in 20 said once a week.

Of those who go to work on hangovers or have been drunk at work, 85% said it affected their performance or mood, according to the press release. More than a third (36%) found it hard to concentrate, 35% were less productive, 42% felt tired to the point of being sleepy, 25% did the minimum amount of work and went home as soon as possible, and almost one in 10 admitted they made lots of mistakes.

Interestingly, people working in media and creative jobs were the worst culprits, with 41% admitting they have been to work while still drunk. Almost a quarter (24%) of those in construction and in professional and business services (23%) said they have done the same, as have 15% of IT workers.

More than half of employees (54%) questioned thought that their bosses and colleagues noticed a change in their productivity as a result of drinking, and 24% reported also feeling embarrassed about something they have said or done in front of their boss or colleagues after drinking. The habit has not escaped bosses’ attentions as 77% of employers indicated they believe alcohol is the number one threat to employee well-being and is encouraging sickness absence.

Don Shenker, from Alcohol Concern, said in the release: “With many people drinking at harmful levels it’s not surprising to find that it is having an effect on the workplace. Employers need to watch out for the early warning signs that alcohol may be affecting their workers in a serious way.”

This is not the first study that has found significant reporting of workers drinking on the job (See Study: Some Workers Hung Over in the Office , Falling Asleep Ranks as Most Common Workplace Taboo and Watch Your Mouth! Foul Language Worst Employee Etiquette Offense ).