Help for employers to tackle impact of alcohol in the workplace

Innovative new Drink, Work & Me Employers’ Toolkit launched

ADDICTION NI, Business in the Community and the Social Research Centre have worked in partnership to launch a new Drink, Work & Me Employers’ Toolkit, designed to help businesses review, develop and implement an effective substance misuse policy within their organisations.

The toolkit has been developed as part of Drink, Work & Me, an employer-led, pioneering programme that seeks to help employees understand the wider impacts of alcohol, assisting them to make informed choices when using it. Nineteen companies have already participated in the programme which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Launching the Toolkit at Parliament Buildings on Wednesday 15 June, Thelma Abernethy, CEO, Addiction NI explains: “As the third biggest cause of death in Northern Ireland, alcohol is a major issue in our society, and its misuse is the second greatest risk factor for cancer after smoking.

“With the heaviest drinkers tending to be concentrated among those of working age, we believe the workplace is the ideal setting to focus on the issue. This Toolkit has been specially designed to give employers the means, ideas, and information to provide appropriate wellbeing support to their workforce.

“Many employers want to support their staff who are experiencing alcohol-related harm but are unsure where to start. Drink, Work & Me is not an anti-alcohol campaign; it’s about ensuring employees in Northern Ireland have access to appropriate information and guidance at the right time in their lives to enable them to make informed choices about their alcohol use.”

Amy Kieran from Business in the Community added: “Talking about alcohol use and misuse within the workplace should not off-limits. Instead, organisations should promote an open and friendly working culture where employees feel comfortable in speaking to their colleagues and manager about any concerns or issues they may have. This approach can assist any individuals who are experiencing problems and ensure they have access to relevant support services as early as possible in order to reduce the impact on themselves, their colleagues, their family and the business. This Toolkit is a great way to achieve this, and we are delighted to release it as a valuable resource for business”.

Survitec Group was among the first cohort of businesses to participate in the Drink, Work & Me project and has now completed the programme, with all staff receiving the training. Managing Director, Moya Johnston is a strong advocate for the programme. She explains: “We became involved in Drink, Work & Me as part of our wider employee health and wellbeing approach. It has certainly raised awareness of the potential impact of alcohol misuse amongst our employees and has helped us to create a culture where employees feel free to confront any difficulties they may be experiencing. Drink, Work & Me has allowed us to address what is often a contentious issue from a strategic perspective whilst bringing a range of positive benefits to staff wellbeing.”

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