Bosses are putting pressure on staff to drink, new poll finds

Bosses are putting pressure on staff to drink, new poll finds

As many as 1 in 5 British workers feel pressurised to drink at work events, according to figures published by UK Addiction Treatment Group.

The Group, which surveyed 3,000 workers, found that many feel unable to avoid alcohol during workplace functions, because drinking is expected by their bosses.

The findings mean that as many as seven million employees in British businesses could be drinking regularly against their wishes.

Contributing factors

Figures from Alcohol Change UK suggest that there are as many as 60,000 dependent drinkers in the UK, with this latest survey highlighting the role that a workplace drinking culture can play.

Experts commenting on the workplace survey say that the pressure to ‘fit in’ at work and build relationships with senior members of staff is what is driving the problem.

Age was also a key factor, with half of 18-year-olds saying their bosses encourage them to drink, and a third of 25 to 30-year-olds admitting to drinking alcohol due to workplace pressures.

Nuno Albuquerque, addictions specialist and head of treatment at UK Addiction Treatment Group, said of the findings: “It’s hard to fit in at work and prove yourself, so it is no surprise that employees try to build relationships by socialising with bosses over alcohol.

“But it is important to bear in mind that alcohol changes people’s behaviour. For some, being under the influence with people they are professional with could be a dangerous combination.”

Building a culture of awareness

With extensive experience in providing alcohol testing services for UK businesses across all sizes and sectors, AlphaBiolabs is all too familiar with the detrimental impact that alcohol dependency can have on individuals, as well as on company culture.

According to data published by the CIPD, as many as 25% of employees say that alcohol or drugs have affected them at work, while the Institute of Alcohol Studies reports that alcohol misuse costs the British economy around £7.3bn each year.

These alarming figures highlight the need for increased awareness in the workplace, particularly when it comes to fostering a more open culture surrounding alcohol and its impact on health and safety.

Effective management and employee awareness training plays a fundamental role in this process, setting out the company’s stance on alcohol misuse at work, the signs and symptoms of misuse that people can look out for, and the responsibilities of the employer and the employee.

It also provides the business with the opportunity to highlight any counselling and support services available.

If you have a substance misuse policy in place, or are thinking of implementing one, awareness training should always be the first step in embedding your alcohol policy into the company culture.

There are also steps you can take as a responsible employer to ensure people do not feel pressured to drink during workplace events, including:

  • Hosting workplace events that do not revolve around alcohol, such as activity or food-based events
  • Offering plenty of alcohol-free alternatives at events, to give employees more choice

Workplace alcohol testing services

AlphaBiolabs is a UKAS-accredited and award-winning testing laboratory, providing workplace alcohol testing, support with policy creation/review, awareness training and sample collection training.

We support businesses of every size, across all sectors: from those in safety critical industries, to those that simply recognise the importance of safeguarding their staff and business against the risks associated with substance misuse.

Our laboratory can test a variety of samples for alcohol including breath, hair, and nails.

As a Workplace customer, you also have access to our national network of professional clinicians, with sample collections available 365 days a year.

Alternatively, if you prefer to collect your own samples in-house, our sample collection training will ensure your staff are equipped with the necessary skills to collect samples whenever required.

For more information or to request a quote, contact our Workplace team today on 0333 600 1300 (select option 2) or email

Workplace testing services

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