Four Ways to Help Employees Change their Relationship with Alcohol

ALAViDA Featured in Benefits and Pensions Monitor

In Four Ways to Help Employees Change their Relationship with Alcohol, our Mental health Director Terri-Lynn Mckay discusses how to create a workplace culture that supports employees who want to reduce intake.

As invaluable as flexibility has become for remote and hybrid workers, the lack of in-person social contact and the heightened proximity to substance use during the workday have contributed to concerning increases in the use of a variety of substances, particularly alcohol. While rates of alcohol and substance use increased during the pandemic, adults aged 35-50 reported the highest rate of alcohol use ever for this age group.

Four ways to help employees change their relationship with alcohol

  1. Offer benefits that support education and prevention, as well as recovery. Currently, in order for insurance to pay for services, an employee’s alcohol use has to reach a high level of severity before they qualify for disability management or alcohol addiction treatment. Look for solutions that can be easily integrated into your benefits program and that will support employees across the alcohol-use spectrum. For example, on-demand, virtual resources and education about alcohol and substance use are an effective way to deliver confidential support for alcohol and substance use. At ALAViDA, a product of LifeSpeak Inc., our outcomes show that 80 percent of people who use these resources are successful in reducing or stopping their alcohol or substance use, with an average reduction of two drinks per day.
  2. Create an accepting, alcohol-free workplace culture. Help employees understand that reducing or removing alcohol from their lives does not have to mean avoiding social situations. Strive to create an environment and work events where employees don’t feel like they are obligated to drink, or that makes them anxious about jeopardizing their sobriety. It’s important for HR leaders and employers to recognize that there is a growing population of sober-curious or sober-sometimes employees who want to change their relationship with alcohol and reduce their intake. Rather than hosting an open bar at work functions, consider serving a limited selection of low-alcohol drinks or alcohol-free drinks that have become popular due to the sober-curious movement. While these drinks can be triggers for some people who have given up alcohol, they can also be a positive reward for others.
  3. Create self-awareness and understanding for what the spectrum of alcohol use looks like. An important aspect of managing alcohol use is understanding that it exists on a spectrum. Through education and open dialogue, HR teams can help employees see themselves and their coworkers in the spectrum of alcohol use; whether they are the mom who drinks a bottle of wine with girlfriends on the weekend to destress over her hectic life or the young employee who hits up happy hour after work three days a week. Becoming self-aware of their own alcohol use can help employees manage their relationship with substances, while potentially identifying challenges among family members, such as children who may be sneaking alcohol or binge drinking on the weekends with friends.
  4. Focus on prevention and harm reduction. Help employees understand how alcohol use can impact their health by sharing the latest research findings in small, understandable bites, along with information about lifestyle risks and associated problems. For example, it may surprise employees to learn that not only is alcohol associated with several chronic and life-threatening conditions, but it is a known level-one carcinogen like tobacco and asbestos. Couple this type of content with hands-on support to help employees understand and change their health behaviours – no matter where they are in their readiness to change.

For centuries, alcohol use has been an acceptable social norm. However, the world is gaining a better understanding of the health effects related to alcohol use, and HR teams need to factor this into their wellbeing initiatives. By educating employees about available resources and benefits and supporting employees who want to move toward abstinence and harm reduction, HR teams can drive significant improvements in employee wellbeing and corporate performance.

Click here to read the full article in BPM’s website