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What factors affect people's drinking?

A range of factors, both inside and outside the workplace, contribute to why people drink and how they’re affected. 

Employers can control some of these factors and create a responsible alcohol culture, but not others.

Think about what you can influence within the workplace and how you might encourage change outside work. Don’t just focus on what individuals can do – think about how your organisation influences your people’s drinking, negatively or positively.

Workplace factors that can contribute to high-risk alcohol use include:

  • workplace drinking culture, including after-work drinks and/or drinking during the day (and pressuring non-drinkers to join in)
  • organisational culture (attitudes, norms, practices and expectations around drinking)
  • the availability of, and access to, alcohol at work
  • structures and controls (supervision, rules and regulations)
  • environment and working conditions (shift work, long hours, working remotely, low-level supervision, poor occupational health and safety practices, lack of access to support services, low level of work control, job insecurity)
  • work stress, low group cohesion and high work conflict
  • discrimination, bullying and harassment.

These factors can combine to create a workplace drinking culture that might be different to how an employee would normally drink - for example, to fit in they may drink more than they usually would.

Factors outside the workplace that influence drinking include:

  • age, gender and other individual differences
  • attitudes and beliefs about alcohol
  • levels of individual resilience and vulnerability
  • family/whānau attitudes, beliefs and behaviours
  • the social norms and expectations of social networks and the wider community.

While employers can't directly control factors outside the workplace, a organisation's drinking culture can have a strong influence on employees' drinking habits. 

 

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