In a 2006 survey of over 2800 employees, Michael Frone found alcohol use and impairment affected about 15% of U.S. workers. Some of his survey findings:
- About 2% drink before work.
- 7% drink during the workday
- 1.7% work under the influence of alcohol
- 9% work with a hangover
- Managers were more likely to drink at work than those lower in the organization
Byrne, Dionisi, and colleagues reviewed literature on workplace consumption. Here are findings from their review of the literature:
- Who is most likely to consume on the job? People with work overload, job insecurity, those who are impulsive, those who think it relieves stress and improves performance
- Even low levels of workplace drinking are related to work withdrawal, less effort, conflict, aggression, and some decreased cognitive functioning.
- At .05 blood alcohol level (BAL) planning was impaired.
- At high levels .08 to .12 BAL, behaviors can become more extreme.
- Workplace consumption of alcoholic beverages was related to less effective leadership.
- If the leader was also depressed, moderate to high levels of consumption exacerbated the effect.
1. Byrne et al. make a reasonable case for the negative effects of workplace drinking. Given the apparent prevalence of workplace drinking in some organizations, there seems to be a research opportunity here. Is there a scientific argument to be made for workplace drinking? What does the data say? I'd also like to see a 2014 survey to compare with Frone's 2006 data.
2. Does the organization have a written policy on workplace drinking? Frone also raised this point. What if an employee develops or has a drinking problem? Does the organization have clear policies and programs to assist the employee who is a problem drinker? If there is a formal policy, it is ignored or enforced?
3. I am not a lawyer. I would think there would be legal counsel appropriate to this issue. Are there liability issues?
4. I suspect drinking alcoholic beverages in the workplace may be a significant issue in some organizations. I don’t know. But I can see the manager with a small frig with cold beer, or a flask of liquor, or an open bottle of wine stashed in a desk drawer. What’s the impact if any? On productivity? On perceptions? And what about the organizations where open workplace drinking is just part of the culture?
Byrne, A., Dionisi, A. M., Barling, J. , Ayers, A., Robertson, J., Lys, R., Wylie, J., & Dupré, K. (2014). The depleted leader: The influence of leaders’ diminished psychological resources on leadership behaviors, The Leadership Quarterly, 25, 344-357.
Frone, M. R. (2006). Prevalence and distribution of alcohol use and impairment in the workplace: A U.S. National Survey. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 67, 147-156.
"Zwei Bier." © John Ballard, 2012.