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Negative side effects of drinking with colleagues after work

A common workplace culture is to drink with colleagues. It is often seen as a way to build relationships and team cohesion. However, this practice actually brings around numerous undesirable bad side effects, which we would list out below. We believe companies should take these into account before encouraging the culture.

Health costs:

Studies show that the productivity loss per employee per year due to absenteeism and reduced work efficiency caused by alcohol consumption is about NZ$1,098 on average, equivalent to nearly 5 full working days. In addition, companies also need to spend a lot of time and resources dealing with employee health, disciplinary, and legal issues which arise from drinking behavior.

Social impacts:

The drinking culture in the workplace can have a significant impact on employee drinking behavior. Many studies have found that non-rewarding work environments (such as high-stress or unrewarding jobs) can increase employees' tendency to use alcohol to alleviate inner stress and feelings of alienation. Furthermore, social interactions with colleagues, especially during non-work hours, often reinforce social norms around drinking, leading to increased drinking behavior.

For example, a study of Detroit residents found that leisure time spent with colleagues was significantly associated with men's frequent bar patronage, drinking volume, symptomatic drinking, and alcohol abuse. Among the female sample, this interaction also significantly affected drinking volume, but not the other drinking-related variables.

Further evidence shows that drinking behavior among colleagues has an important influence on drinking behavior in social settings outside the workplace. These social networks are not limited to traditional work modes, but reflect how employees build close social connections outside the workplace, with drinking as a primary activity.

Therefore, companies and management should take the potential risks of workplace drinking culture seriously when considering workplace health strategies and cultural building. Alternative social activities, increased awareness and education about drinking issues, and creating a supportive environment for non-drinking or responsible drinking should be considered. Through these methods, companies can not only protect the health of their employees, but also avoid productivity losses from alcohol consumption, creating a healthier and more productive work environment.

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