Alcohol misuse affects 20% of the adult population in the UK. This is of course only what is reported, the figures in reality are now far higher. Against the current background of rising stress levels, risk of unemployment, static pay levels, and changing work-life balance – company directors, HR managers, Health & Safety officers would do well to be aware of its presence and effect on their business. Figures suggest that even the smallest companies will have employees with an alcohol issue. Alcohol is a drug, dressed up to be acceptable, glamorous and normal. And it is everywhere.
How are alcohol issues dealt with in your business?
Whether its alcohol, drugs, gambling, gaming, food, social media or online addictions – all have an impact on the individual’s ability to perform at work and incur substantial costs for the business:
• Absenteeism – an employee’s time away from work due to illness or disability
• Lost productivity
• Accidents in the workplace
• Fraud
• Presenteeism – decrease in productivity in employees whose health problems have not necessarily led to absenteeism
• Re-training costs through loss of skills
• Health and Safety breaches
• Co-worker/team moral

If alcohol remains a hidden problem it can become a costly and damaging force. However, if employers routinely take the dismissal route there are cost implications; disciplinary, competency, gross misconduct or dismissal proceedings, tribunals, lost management time, reduced productivity. And less tangible costs relating to health and safety, breaking employment law, be mindful also of negligence laws surrounding ‘duty of care’.
Consider the time it takes to advertise, recruit, interview and train a new employee to the same competency level; if that ‘hire’ is successful (also a risk) this process could still cost the business 12-18 months.

Harrogate Sanctuary now sees that is it becoming imperative for companies of any size to take this problem seriously, and offers a bespoke service, particularly for women, to organizations to encourage open dialogue with employees about these important issues. We look to be a strategic partner. Our aim is to work individually with members of staff who are experiencing difficulties and achieve good outcomes for both the client and the employee. Empathy, discretion and compassion are paramount. Currently we have an 89% recovery rate with our six week programme, where clients become either in control of their alcohol misuse or completely abstinent. The cost to the employee is wholly dependent on their employer’s policy.
Confidentiality for the individual in treatment is strictly maintained. But our relationship and interaction with the employer guarantees they remain fully informed of progress. We advise the employer, manager or HR department of any and all potential issues to ensure a smooth return to work (this can be a phased return).
If you feel that Harrogate Sanctuary could be a beneficial to you and your staff, I would be happy to discuss our programme with you.


Author: Sarah Turner

Founder of the Harrogate Sanctuary.