Businesses Need More Support to Help Employees Tackle Alcohol and Drugs

Employees who use drugs or misuse alcohol are more likely to take time off, display poor performance and their behaviour could increase the risk of accidents, all of which can result in increased costs and risks to business, particularly if roles involve machinery or are safety critical.

Employers are crucial to promoting the health and wellbeing of their workforce and can take action to reduce sickness, absence, and improve mental wellbeing and productivity.

Employers may not traditionally see alcohol, drug or tobacco use as part of their responsibility but there is a huge cost to business, the economy and individual workers.

Alcohol, drug and tobacco use may not be at the top of employers’ health concerns, but are the causes of, and contributors to, short and long term ill-health for a considerable proportion of people of working age. For example, in England, there were an estimated 301,000 potential years of life lost due to alcohol in 2015 and the economic impact is also estimated to be up to £7.3bn a year.

Smoking costs employers £5.3bn through increased sickness absence and smoking breaks, and two thirds of smokers say they want to stop, but many fail without adequate support. An estimated 8.5% of 16 to 59 year olds took a drug in the last year and an estimated 1.5 million people in the UK are addicted to prescription and over-the-counter medicines

In response, Business in the Community, in association with Public Health England, has co-produced this new toolkit for employers that consolidates the best evidence, practical actions, employer practice with freely available resources, aimed at all employers regardless of size or sector.

This is the latest in a suite of toolkits Business in the Community has co developed with Public Health England that takes a whole person, integrated approach to physical and mental health. The toolkits are designed to support leaders, practitioners and line managers to create a culture where conversations can take place, and in which employees understand the benefits of healthy lifestyle.

Business in the Community Wellbeing Director, Louise Aston commented: “We hope that employers will use this toolkit in conjunction with the Business in the Community and Public Health England toolkit suite to ensure their employees are getting the support they need to remain in good health and fulfil their potential.’’

Dr Justin Varney, National Strategic Advisor on Health and Work at Public Health England, said: “A healthy business needs a healthy workforce and we spend one third of our adult life in work, so employers are in a unique position to help their teams stay well. This toolkit give requested advice to businesses on how to help employees deal with addiction and substance misuse sensitively and appropriately.”

(Source: Business in the Community)

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