It's sad to accept that alcoholic employees are more prevalent than many of us would acknowledge. And the effect, which is not limited to the employee with the drinking problem, escalates to hurt productivity, among other related issues. As a manager, suspecting that your employee is having a drinking problem is a difficult time – many questions would be running on your mind. Questions like: how do I handle an alcoholic employee? Is it okay to refer an employee with a drinking problem to a third party? When is drinking at work actually a problem? How do I identify an employee with an alcohol problem?
Here are steps on how to deal with an employee with an alcohol problem.
Look out for signs that an employee is alcoholic
Identifying the employee with alcohol problem early makes the situation easier to handle. Managers are to always look out for the following signs that may indicate a problem with alcohol.
- The smell of alcohol in the breath
- Neglecting their appearance
- Missing deadlines, forgetting tasks and being unreliable
- Not able to focus at work or meetings
- An increase in absenteeism or often being late to work
- Inconsistent behavior, such as inappropriate loud talk or laughing excessively
- Falling asleep on duty
- Excess use of breath mints, mouthwash or chewing gum
- Missing or arriving late for meetings or business appointments
- Taking uncalculated risks or ignoring facts while making decisions
- Avoidance of contacts with supervisors
While you might notice these signs, they are not the only ones associated with alcohol addicts. You should proceed to the next step if any of them coincides with your suspicion.
Have a meeting with the employee
Having confirmed that the employee is abusing alcohol, it’s best to deal with the situation fast by calling them for a one-on-one meeting. You may want to invite one more person (such as an HR representative), but ensure not to invite more than two other persons so that the employee doesn’t feel victimized.
Approach the employee with facts and try to make them understand your concern for their wellbeing. Do not mention the word “addiction” in your statement or present your opinion by saying “we think you have a problem.” The employee with drinking problem needs to know they are not being attacked. It is normal for the employee to deny at first or be angry at the situation. Show the employee how the drinking lifestyle would affect their team and work performance. If the employee accepts to be having a drinking problem, proceed to step 4, otherwise, step 3 will be next.
Request for alcohol tests from the employee with the drinking problem
Employees may show strong resistance to accept being alcoholic, even with strong evidence they are abusing alcohol. Your next procedure here is to request for alcohol tests. The alcohol test procedure must reflect alcohol test policy available in your workplace if it's available.
Discuss employee alcoholism help
While the employee serves the penalties for abusing alcohol at work, you may need to send them for employee alcoholism help if the drinking is regular. This gives you a legal backup to terminate their appointment if they fail to recover.
Alcohol abuse among employees is not a new issue in the corporate space and substance abusing employees represent a huge problem for their employers. Due to legal claims, managers are advised to document every procedure they undertake while dealing with an employee with the alcohol problem. At the same time, managers are also required to support their employees fully and be concerned about their wellbeing.