Drinking in the workplace(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I think it’s time that I come clean. I’ve been drunk at work more times than I care to remember, and none of it was my fault. Seriously…. No, this isn’t one of those posts where I tell you haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks because I was in rehab, or something like that. I’m going with a different angle altogether.
Alcohol plays a positive role in the workplace / Alcohol plays a destructive role in the workplace.
Both arguments have merit.
Alcohol is destructive at work
It’s difficult to argue with the statistics about the bad effects of alcohol in the workplace. According to data published on the web by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, alcohol is the single most used and abused drug in America. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 14 million Americans (1 in every 13 adults) abuse alcohol or are alcoholics. Corporations drop millions annually fighting battling this workplace scourge through their benefit plans and employee assistance programs. Estimates on the costs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse range from $33 billion to $68 billion per year.
Alcohol is positive at work
Many business leaders spend even more time and effort encouraging drinking as part of the workplace culture. In fact, there is a strong informal culture that encourages drinking to be in the club. According to a recent story in the New York Times on being pressured to drink at work, when it comes to proving your part of the team or closing the deal, having a drink may be more important to the process than even the time honored game of golf. The first time I ever got drunk at work was I was in college. I was a short order cook at a place called The Clock Restaurant, which was a 24 hour coffee shop place. I was working a twelve hour shift on a Friday, 4 PM to 4 AM. One of the cooks coming in at midnight brought some beer in a cooler in the trunk of his car, and it was on. We made frequent trips outside, and all the cooks working “bar rush” were just as drunk as many of the customers. This became a regular thing for that entire summer. No one ever caught on, or cared enough to say so if they did. In my first job in human resources, it wasn’t unusual for our division VP to round up a few managers and head down to the Knight Cap for a long boozy lunch, several times a week. At another company, the owner expected his management staff to show up in his office around 5:30 pm to do drink scotch with him for an hour or so before heading home. I was a reluctant participant in these adventures, but I went along back in the early days of my career. There was more than one night in the 19080′s where I made the twenty mile drive home when I probably shouldn’t have. I would have thought things were different today, but maybe not. What’s your experience with this topic? I’d love to hear.