Request a demo here for our Tobacco Cessation Solution and receive a free Heart Health Gift Box.
Pivot Clear

Alcohol is a Slippery Slope for Employee Productivity

March 21, 2024
By Pivot
woman on a run wearing headphones

Productivity is crucial for business success in today’s increasingly competitive landscape. Companies are constantly looking for ways to maximize core indicators of a productive workforce, like efficiency and output. However, there's one thing often forgotten that can significantly impact productivity: how much alcohol individuals drink.

In Recent Years

There has been an emerging trend over the past few years of employees struggling with alcohol use - and its consequences. While the occasional drink may seem harmless at first glance, regular heavy drinking can take a significant toll. Whether it be absenteeism or poor decision-making, alcohol misuse reduces both the quality and quantity of the work that employees can deliver.

Uncover the prevalence of alcohol use, its effects on performance, the financial burden for businesses, and the actual cost organizations pay for employee productivity.

Alcohol Use Prevalence Among Employees

Alcohol consumption – including the occasional drink and heavy drinking – is common among employees today. About 65% of America’s 123 million full-time workers ages 18 and older say that they drink. Another study shows that over 20% of full-time employees report engaging in binge drinking, with an average of 7.4 drinks consumed per binge drinking episode.

The Gray Area

There has also been a notable rise in what many consider to be gray-area drinking patterns, which is the murky area between not consuming any alcohol and consuming far too much. The days where an individual could be described as either an alcoholic or a non-alcoholic are gone. Alcohol use is now being acknowledged as a spectrum. There is a growing understanding across the medical community that, no matter where an individual is on the spectrum of use, drinking less is recommended and beneficial for living a healthy life. Why? Because at even low to moderate levels of drinking, alcohol consumption can still have detrimental effects on health and performance over time.

With drinking ingrained in society and many work cultures, whether it be happy hours, social events, or a way of bonding, individuals  often underestimate their consumption levels. However, even slight yet habitual drinking can significantly impact productivity and well-being.

Alcohol’s Detrimental Impact on Employee Productivity

Alcohol can lead to plenty of issues negatively impacting employee productivity in the workplace. One quantifiable effect is increased absenteeism and presenteeism. Employees who regularly drink — even moderate amounts — are more likely to miss work days due to sickness or hangovers. When these employees do show up, the quality of their work suffers due to a lack of focus and efficiency.

Another detrimental effect of alcohol use is an increase in on-the-job accidents and injuries. Employees who drink are much more prone to unsafe behavior and errors in judgment that can lead to workplace accidents. Typically, harm to the employee and potential damage to the employer are frequent consequences. Regular drinking also hinders decision-making and judgment.

Alcohol impairs cognitive functions and the ability to analyze both information and situations appropriately. This impairment leads to irrational conclusions as well as poor choices. For businesses, this directly translates to employees who overlook risks while making errors that ultimately harm productivity.

Alcohol consumption is also linked to decreased creativity and problem-solving skills. Being drunk inhibits out-of-the-box thinking while limiting the ability to find solutions. Employees have a tough time coming up with creative ideas or fixing issues, stifling productivity and innovation not only with projects but also within teams.

The Financial Burden of Alcohol on Businesses

Businesses feel the financial impact of lost productivity and increased costs. Employees struggling with alcohol abuse are more likely to be absent or unproductive at work. The CDC estimates that excessive alcohol consumption costs the U.S. $249 billion annually in lost workplace productivity and healthcare expenditure.

Businesses face considerable costs related to:

  • Lost productivity hours. Employees who regularly drink are more likely to experience hangovers, fatigue, poor concentration, and decreased motivation at work. This can lead to lower output and on-the-job focus.
  • Increased absenteeism. Alcohol misuse is linked to more frequent sick days, absences, and tardiness. This strains resources and delays outputs from employees. 14% of absences can be linked to alcohol use, a statistic that only increases the more someone drinks.
  • Higher healthcare expenses. Heavy drinking raises risks for various health issues like liver disease, cancer, heart problems, and depression. The cost of treating these issues leads to significantly higher insurance premiums and medical expenses for employers.

Combined, these direct and indirect costs amount to thousands of lost dollars per alcohol-drinking employee each year. Without the proper solutions to address drinking across the spectrum, businesses suffer from reduced output, profits, and growth.

That’s why a practical solution that addresses the whole spectrum of alcohol consumption is needed.

Addressing Alcohol Use in Innovative Ways

Employer Benefits

Implementing alcohol management solutions provides numerous benefits for employers looking to boost productivity and engagement. The right digital health solution can help increase productivity by directly reducing lost hours and enabling employees to focus better on tasks. Simply put, presenteeism decreases when employees have the tools to monitor and moderate their drinking habits.

Absenteeism is also lowered when alcohol use is addressed. How? Providing confidential and trusted resources empowers employees to seek help without missing work due to stigma or lack of solutions. As a result, this reduces missed days and unplanned absences.

Businesses that support employee wellness will see a boost in morale and engagement. Employees feel valued when provided with the resources needed to improve their health and work-life balance. This fosters a more positive, inclusive environment while also reducing turnover.

Employee Benefits

The right digital health solution can also offer employees essential benefits as well. Through confidential support focused on cultivating healthier alcohol habits, such a solution can help improve employee physical and mental health.

With digital support and accountability, employees can better gain control over their alcohol consumption and find healthier coping mechanisms. This allows employees to find a balance between their personal and professional lives. Rather than feeling the stigma and shame that can often be associated with alcohol consumption, employees will feel equipped to make positive changes.

Give Employees the Alcohol Mindfulness Solution They Deserve

Alcohol use among employees requires more attention. With the rate of regular alcohol consumption on the rise, there is sure to be an increase in subsequent absenteeism, presenteeism, accidents, poor decision-making, and decreased creativity. This, in turn, results in staggering hidden costs for businesses, from lost productivity to increased healthcare costs.

While traditional employee assistance programs have limitations addressing alcohol use, new digital health solutions offer a better way to do things.


How does alcohol consumption affect employee performance in the workplace?
Logo Illustrating of arrow pointing down

Alcohol can significantly impact employee performance, impairing judgment, coordination, and focus, leading to increased errors, missed deadlines, and reduced productivity.

What are the hidden costs of alcohol use in the workplace?
Logo Illustrating of arrow pointing down

Beyond a sharp decrease in productivity, alcohol increases absenteeism, presenteeism, and healthcare costs for employers.

Is there a link between company culture and employee alcohol consumption?
Logo Illustrating of arrow pointing down

Yes! A culture that moves away from normalizing alcohol as a social lubricant or way to bond with fellow employees helps create a new norm that’s much healthier for employees.

What can employers do to promote a healthy workplace environment regarding alcohol?
Logo Illustrating of arrow pointing down

Employers can establish clear alcohol-use policies, promote healthy alternatives for stress relief, and provide employees with the educational resources needed for more mindful drinking.

Logo Illustrating of arrow pointing down
Yellow swirl illustration
Empower Employees to Create a Healthier Relationship with Alcohol

Discover Pivot Clear, the latest powerful digital health solution focused on helping employees cultivate more mindful drinking habits.

Right pointing arrow icon illustration
Right pointing arrow icon illustration
Why It’s Time to Address Alcohol Misuse Among Employees
How Alcohol Misuse is Draining Your Business Financially
Take a Sober Curious Approach to Workplace Wellness
How Mindful Drinking Boosts Business and Employee Health
woman at doctors office
This American Heart Month: Give Your Employees Heartfelt Support With Pivot Flex