The growing trend in workplace wellness is a welcome one. Employers are realising that there are business benefits in terms of recruitment and retention, and employees appreciate their wellness being considered.
In general, Irish people are increasingly considering aspects of their physical and mental health with the latest Pfizer Health Index (2018) showing that 86% of people felt that their personal health was important to them, an increase from 71% in 2017.
The workplace has been recognised by the World Health Organisation as playing an important role in promoting health. Workplace wellness programmes typically involve elements focusing on mental health, physical wellness, good nutrition and sleep. Alcohol misuse has wide-ranging impacts on each of these areas but is often not a featured component of employee wellness programmes or initiatives.
Alcohol misuse can contribute to the development of mental health difficulties and exacerbate existing mental health problems. Alcohol is a factor in more than half of all suicides in Ireland.
Alcohol is a known contributory factor in the development of at least seven different cancers including liver cancer, bowel cancer and breast cancer. Regular drinking, particularly above the low-risk guidelines, is also linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and a range of stomach disorders.
Alcohol is high in calories and sugar, contributing to Ireland’s growing problem of overweight and obesity. In fact, one gram of alcohol contains seven calories, almost the same as pure fat (nine calories).
Alcohol can have a negative effect on the quality of sleep, leading to feelings of tiredness the next day. This in turn makes a person less likely to engage in physical activity.
Our most recent and comprehensive research, the Drinkaware Index, shows that 21% of Irish drinkers sometimes think they should cut down on their drinking, but only 2% were able to correctly identify the HSE low-risk alcohol guidelines. These findings show that while there is an interest in drinking less, but the knowledge of the true impact of drinking habits is lacking.
Drinkaware’s workplace wellness options include workshops, staffed information stand, health promotion resources and more. Our resources provide evidence-based information about alcohol, tools to make it easier to understand drinking habits and tips to make small, positive changes to drink in a less harmful way. We know that every business is different. Our Workplace Wellness Coordinator, Marie Quinn, will discuss your needs and work with you to create the right programme for your organisation. Why not consider including alcohol awareness as part of your employee wellness programme?