For many, alcohol is a way to wind down after a long day at work or used whilst socialising with friends over the weekend. But, regular and excessive drinking is not only harming our health, but also harming our businesses too. Alcohol can end up costing businesses huge sums of money due to absenteeism, lost productivity, and health and safety risks. 

According to a recent survey, 44 million days were lost because of alcohol-related issues in the workplace over a period of just 12 months. A portion of this was down to employees taking time off work to nurse a hangover thanks to their drinking the night before. 

An even more shocking statistic is that 1 in 7 staff who were surveyed admitted to drinking alcohol during working hours. It is clear that alcohol is a big factor in many people’s lives, and that it will continue to affect businesses negatively unless we do something to combat it.

Alcohol-Related Absenteeism

woman with head in hands at work, hungover and unproductiveOne of the more obvious issues caused by alcohol in the workplace is the number of missed work days. Whether caused by the hangover that will inevitably come with heavy drinking, or from injuries caused by alcohol-fuelled behaviour, absenteeism is a major problem for UK businesses. 

Not only do these kinds of absences cause issues for workplace dynamics and productivity, but they can also affect morale, profits, and inter-office relationships. And, on average, absenteeism costs around £2000 per employee each year. But, where do these costs come from?

First, you have the cost of the wages that need to be paid to the absent employee, although this cost only applies to salaried employees, of course. Depending on the situation, you may also need to bring in cover for your absent employee, meaning another day’s wage on top of the one you have already paid. Then, you have the administrative costs that come with managing an employee's sick leave.

On top of these explicit expenses, you also have a number of costs that can arise from absent employees. Work is likely to be of a lower quality than usual either because of inexperienced staff covering the project, or a hastily completed job once the employee returns. You’re also likely to find that the manager responsible for the missing employee will be burdened with more work to make up the deficit. One missed workday by one employee can have something of a snowball effect across the entire organisation.

The Costs of Presenteeism

Alcohol consumption doesn’t just affect businesses when employees fail to show up to the office the next day. In fact, when employees choose to “power through” their hangovers and come into work, they could be doing more harm than good. 

When suffering from a hangover, our attention spans are drastically shortened, our energy levels are lowered, and our ability to perform even the simplest of tasks are reduced. While many employees believe that by showing up to work, even when they are suffering from a killer hangover, they are doing the right thing for their employers – they couldn’t be more wrong.

Every work day here in the UK can see up to 200,000 employees turning up while under the effects of a hangover. Each and every one of those employees are bringing with them lowered productivity and the possibility of creating conflict with their fellow workers. Most employees are aware of just how detrimental drinking can be to their performance at work. 83% of workers involved in a recent survey admitted that being hungover made a difference in their work. 

Despite this knowledge, the problem doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. As a society, we have been programmed to believe that a glass of wine after work helps us unwind, or that drinking beer is the only socially acceptable way to spend our Saturday nights. It is because of this kind of conditioning that many of us find ourselves suffering the after-effects in the workplace.

Searching for a hangover cure is not the way to combat this epidemic. Instead, we need to work to change the way we see and interact with alcohol. Working through a programme like One Year No Beer can be a great way to help your employees change their relationship with alcohol, and work towards greater overall health. 

Not only will they feel better, healthier and happier, but your business will also be able to save money to the tune of reduced absenteeism, higher productivity, and better office relationships.

How to Save Your Business Money

woman happy and smiling, on the phone to colleagueNo business is able to stamp out sick days or productivity dips in their workforce – these are human situations that will happen no matter what you do. What you can work to improve though is the environment your employee’s work in, and their overall wellbeing. One approach to this, is to help your workforce change their relationship with alcohol. One Year No Beer (OYNB) is a behavioural change organisation that does just that; offering daily online support through a 28, 90 or 365 Day Challenge to help members reset the way they think about alcohol and make healthy choices where alcohol is concerned. 

By instilling healthier drinking habits in your employees, you’ll be able to cultivate a more engaged workforce who are less likely to skip a day of work because of a hangover. With One Year No Beer, you can showcase your commitment to creating a workplace that benefits your employees as well as your bottom line – by helping to improve the relationship your employees have with alcohol, you’ll be able to drastically reduce the costs related to drinking and work. 


To find out more about OYNB and how the an alcohol-free challenge could benefit your organisation, visit us at or get in touch with us at [email protected]


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