04/11/2011

Alcohol, work and productivity

Despite the extensive evidence base for the potential negative impact of
alcohol consumption on productivity, the evidence base for effective responses
is rather poor. It is not known if changing work structures can reduce
workplace alcohol-related harm. Whilst there is some limited evidence from
systematic reviews for an impact of counselling based interventions at the work
place, peer support programmes and web based programmes, most of the evidence
is based on self-report, with few outcomes that are objective.

Mandatory screening programmes seem to have an impact and can be appropriate
for those employees in high risk situations, such as in the transport sector.
Although systematic reviews find in general that health promotion programmes at
the workplace have little impact, with, perhaps the exception of programmes
that promote physical activity, well-being at work programmes seem to bring a
productivity return on investment of 2.73 financial units for every financial
unit spent. There are a number of ways in which the evidence could be bettered,
for example by extending the volume of evaluation through partnerships between
academia and the private sector. Partly, the lack of robust evidence is due to
the difficulty in accessing information due to confidentiality and other
issues. Independent data gathering by academics may be a solution if employees
can be assured that employers will not have access to their personal data.
Finally, policies outside the workplace seem to have an impact.

Investing in social welfare programmes and active labour programmes to keep and
reintegrate workers in jobs can mitigate the negative effective of economic
downturns on alcohol-related deaths. Alcohol polices themselves, such as
increases in the price of alcohol, can reduce sickness absence and overall
unemployment and improve overall productivity.

A new report on 'Alcohol, work and productivity' summarises the most recent
scientific evidence on the linkages between harmful drinking and productivity
or employment, and on the workplace as a locus for addressing harm from
alcohol. The report also looks at concrete workplace interventions.

The opportunities for action identified in the Science Group's report extend to
parties beyond the Alcohol and Health Forum, including to European businesses
and organisations representing their employees, for whom it is hoped the report
can serve as a resource for further work.


More information


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work