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Dry January – why supporting employee’s during Dry January is important

With around 1 in 5 people in the UK taking on Dry January each year it seems to be a good idea to show your support and encouragement to those employees within your workforce embracing the scheme. So, what is Dry January – Dry January is an Alcohol Change UK initiative which encourages people to spend the month alcohol-free, so that they can experience some of the benefits of not drinking alcohol on a regular basis, and in some cases hopefully then introduce greater moderation thereafter.   

Alcohol and its impact on the workplace can be defined as a hidden threat to employee wellbeing. Open conversations at work about the health risks posed by excessive alcohol consumption can have huge benefits. An employee having a good relationship with alcohol can bring about many additional benefits to the workplace, including that of employee wellbeing, increased productivity and improved safety standards.  

Some of the main causes of excessive drinking can be workplace stress and 27% of employees report that workplace stress causes them to drink more outside of work. This is where as an employer it is a good idea to ensure that you are having regular 1-2-1 meetings with your teams to understand their work loads and how they are feeling in general. 

Why support Dry January 

You will play an important part of their overall wellbeing at work and outside of work. Research has shown that 6 months after completing Dry January 70% of participants are still drinking more healthily than they did previously as a result of the programme. For further information on Dry January and how best to support yourself or your workplace please see

Alcohol can play an important role in many of our lives, we drink to celebrate an occasion and we even drink to commiserate too, so having an understanding of the impact it can have will help you to support your workplace. That said, you also need to be mindful of the boundaries between work and home, so you cannot force employees to change their habits at home (unless it’s coming into the workplace!). 

Every year thousands unfortunately lose their lives to alcohol, there are an estimated 600,000 people who are dependant drinkers in England alone and 4 out of 5 people are receiving no treatment at all, unfortunately the harm that excessive drinking does, doesn’t just affect the individual themselves, it affects all of those around them. 

Alcohol at work 

If you suspect that an employee has a difficult relationship with alcohol, it can be beneficial to be aware of organisations who provide support to individuals, so that employers can direct employees to appropriate support.  Alcohol Concern ( and Alcoholics Anonymous ( provide support to individuals, also Adfam (, provide support to the families and loved one of those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, you can also visit ( for more information and support. 

It is also important that you are addressing any issues that you believe are impacting upon their work and see if they will talk to you about any problems they may be facing with alcohol.  This may include performance management or disciplinary processes, but that’s not for this blog today. 

Alcohol and mental health 

Alcohol is often a way people will mask any signs of poor mental health, most of us know that alcohol is a depressant, however it makes us feel happy at the time, but drinking excessively can cause major down time where individuals can spin into the depths of depression if not supported this can lead to a vicious cycle of depending on alcohol to make them feel better. 

If you have concerns about the safety of an employee at work, then it may be necessary to send them home for the remainder of the day.  In such circumstances, relevant internal policies should be adhered to.  It would also be important to consider how the employee got to work and are their fit to drive home, you may need to sort alternative arrangements for them. 

It is also helpful for employers to ensure that you have clear and consistent policies and procedures regarding alcohol in the workplace.    As such, it is recommended that employers create and implement a policy appropriate to their workplace, to avoid mixed-messages and misunderstanding.   

If you are an employer and would like to ensure your policy is fit-for-purpose, or have a specific scenario that you are concerned about and would like advice on how to manage from an HR perspective, please contact a member of the ViewHR team today for an initial discussion.