Workplace culture and alcohol use

Drug Free Workplace, Saliva Drug Test, Workplace Drug TestHaving strong alcohol and drug policies and procedures in place at a workplace is hopefully given high priority in most industries in Australia in 2011. The development of these requires insight, forethought, sound judgment and employee input. But the development of a drug and alcohol policy and the enforcement of it are two separate issues and both need to be activated so your business runs at an optimum.

According to Alcohol and Work: Patterns of use, workplace culture and safety, social availability of alcohol refers to the level of acceptability of drinking in the workplace in a given organisation or site. It refers to the normative or cultural acceptability of alcohol usage by workers or employees, and this perception or view has strong bearing on the potential for workplace alcohol usage despite strong drug and alcohol policies.[1]

So, the drug and alcohol policies may be in place and appear strong, but if the social availability of alcohol – those perceptions relating to the acceptability of drinking culture – are also strong, then the efficacy of the drug and alcohol policy may be compromised.

Factors that might lead to the social acceptability of a drinking culture include:

  • Low level supervision
  • Low level overseeing
  • Low visibility of workers on the job
  • Support for co-workers’ drinking habits

These structural features in the workplace can be further tweaked and restructured to restrict alcohol availability. For example, increasing the supervision levels and increasing the overall visibility of workers on the job may help to encourage a no-alcohol workplace culture approach.[2]

The Justice Department of Queensland also refers to healthy workplace culture and states that “workplace cultures should be developed to support employees’ use of current policies.”[3] A supportive one benefits all, including employees and employers and results in higher retention rates and less staff turnover as well as higher rates of employment satisfaction, reduced stress and less conflict.

Ways to alter the workplace culture

Your organisation can alter a workplace culture where alcohol use and drug use are perceived as acceptable. While it requires long term strategies and thinking, it can lead to significant shifts in organisational productivity and profit. Some of the main ways of changing the culture can include:

  • Communication – good communication and healthy discussion between management and employees regarding expectations, solutions and how-to strategies
  • Education from top down and bottom up
  • Management support – senior and middle management need to get behind the changes and actively embrace them. Resistance to change and traditional managerial approaches that hierarchise the workplace and do not respect employees and sub-contractors can have an eroding effect on the workplace culture.
  • Change key values and norms – change key myths about drinking or drugging.

CMM Technology knows that a successful alcohol and drug policy is underpinned by refreshed attitudes and workplace norms and views about alcohol and drug use. Be sure to develop a sound alcohol and drug workplace attitude in tandem with your new drug and alcohol policies and procedures. For more information on quality testing devices, telephone CMM Technology on 618 0204-2500


[1] http://www.nisu.flinders.edu.au/pubs/reports/2006/injcat82.pdf

[2] ibid

[3] http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/fair-and-safe-work/industrial-relations/work-and-family-and-lifestyle/why-have-work-life-balance-policies/implementation-of-policies/workplace-culture

Tags: , , ,