Wellbeing & Benefits

One in three (33%) UK employees report a drinking culture in their workplace, with alcohol consumption at work often leading to regret the next day, new research from Canada Life Group Insurance reveals.

Nearly a third (29%) of employees say they have regretted their actions after drinking at work, with this being particularly true of younger age groups. More than half (53%) of those aged 25-34 have regretted their conduct after drinking with colleagues.

Regular, excessive alcohol consumption can not only lead to an awkward day in the office, but is also associated with a number of health problems. For example, heavy drinking is linked to a greater risk of liver disease, heart disease, sleep disorders, depression, stroke and several types of cancer.1 With cancer accounting for 69% of critical illness insurance claims2 and most employees spending the majority of the week at work, employers must be mindful to promote a healthy attitude towards drinking in the workplace.

  All 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
There is a drinking culture in my workplace 33% 19% 66% 38% 17% 18%
I have regretted my actions after drinking at work 29% 20% 53% 35% 18% 14%

Table 1 Workplace drinking culture leads to employee regret

One in five 25-35s drink with colleagues at least three to four times a week

Canada Life Group’s research shows 14% of employees drink with their colleagues at least once a week, while 6% do so at least three to four times a week – tripling to almost one in five (17%) 25-34s.

It’s not just younger age groups who find themselves drinking with work colleagues frequently: more than twice as many men drink alcohol on a weekly basis at work (20%) than women (9%).

While more than a quarter (28%) of UK employees on average have felt pressured into drinking alcohol at work in the past, men more often feel they are subjected to such pressure than women (32% of men vs. 22% of women).

A third (34%) of UK employees agree they drink more with their work colleagues than they would normally, with this highest among men (38%) and 25-34s (64%).

Paul Avis, Marketing Director of Canada Life Group, comments: “Most of the time, a casual drink with colleagues is harmless and can help to boost employee morale and teamwork. But when taken to the extreme, this can lead to behaviour that might leave some feeling red-faced the next morning. A heavy workplace drinking culture could mean that some employees end up in this situation regularly, spelling bad news for their own career, organisational productivity and the HR department.

“Cancer is the biggest cause of all group risk claims and, while there are many contributing causes of cancer, alcohol consumption has been identified as a major one. Group critical illness and group income protection can support people who are diagnosed with cancer, but prevention of absence and support for those with alcohol problems must be the best way to approach the topic.  Employee Assistance Programmes, such as those provided alongside most group income protection policies, are a great way of offering support for employees who may find their drinking has become a problem. Support services such as these are confidential and free to use for employees.”

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