Have you ever had a drink during work hours?  Do your colleagues drink at work?

I read an article recently called Why You Should Drink At Work.  Apparently, a study at the University of Illinois, Chicago recently proved that mildly intoxicated individuals (.07 blood alcohol level) are better at creative problem solving than sober counterparts.  It also found that the intoxicated individuals did not perform as well on math and word association tasks.  Researchers contend that the alcohol reduces the ability to pay attention and frees up creative thinking.

I’ve worked at several companies where moderate drinking during the workday was an acceptable practice.  In fact, early in my career, I was quickly told by several senior leaders in the company that if a leader ordered a drink during a business lunch and I did not, I would be considered rude.  There were definitely days when I ordered one then merely sipped it in order to be part of the group and fit in with leaders.  As I got older and more confident, I realized that I did not have to participate in order to remain respected in the group.  Today, I would not be swayed by someone in a role senior to me asking me to have a drink.

There are many companies that provide alcohol and as long as an employee is over 21, it is obviously legal to drink.  Here are four risks of drinking at work:

  • Your performance really can be negatively impacted.  You may not realize it but your decision-making processes will be slowed and you may arrive at answers or make decisions that you will regret later.
  • If you drive you’re risking the lives of others.  If caught, you are likely to lose your license and I’ve seen several employees over the years who have the hardship of having to find someone to drive them to work each day.
  • If you operate machinery at work, you can put yourself and your colleagues at risk.
  • You may be viewed by colleagues as someone who makes poor decisions.   They will lose trust and respect for you.
The loss to companies in the United States due to alcohol and drug-related abuse by employees totals $100 billion a year, according to the The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information.  So, even if drinking alcohol may make you more creative in problem solving, the potential downside is too great.
Do you drink at work?  Do you think it is acceptable for employees to drink at work?