Promotion and education are essential ingredients in communicating your alcohol policy and the measures you’re taking to manage and reduce alcohol-related harm.
Communication and education helps shift attitudes and behaviours related to drinking. This must start in the early stages of policy implementation and must be ongoing, as one-off communications aren’t enough.
If communication and education about harmful drinking and your workplace’s alcohol policy becomes part of employee training and education, it’s more likely to be sustainable in the long term.
It’s important to let your people know that your organisation isn’t trying to interfere with their private lives - that it's about helping them make healthy choices because it's the workplace culture to be healthy.
It’s also important people understand that ensuring no-one is impaired by alcohol is part of a business’ legal responsibility to create and maintain a safe working environment.
The minimal approach
At its most basic, communication around your alcohol work involves distributing a copy of the policy and briefing all employees on:
- the policy rationale and why you’re focusing on alcohol
- the policy’s details and procedures, roles and responsibilities and the consequences of breaching it
- the help available for employees with drinking problems.
The ideal approach
Ideally, the communications and education strategy will be broad.
Include information to improve employees’ awareness and understanding of alcohol-related issues, such as:
- the effects of alcohol and the symptoms of problem drinking, the impact of problem drinking on the workplace, the affected employee and their family
- workplace factors that may contribute to an elevated risk of harm and self-assessment tools
- where to get help, such as community resources, support organisations, self-help groups
- laws and regulations related to alcohol in the workplace
- stress management techniques
- how support from colleagues and families can change patterns of behaviour.
Suggested communications activities
Here are some communication ideas you might put in place with your team.
- Provide copies of the policy and any planned initiatives.
- Discuss the alcohol policy and how you’re aiming to tackle alcohol issues at employee meetings and health and safety briefings.
- Incorporate alcohol-related education material into workplace health promotion activities, and employee induction programmes.
- Provide written material, such as fact sheets or leaflets, for people to read/take home.
- Put up posters outlining the policy and initiatives on staff notice boards.
- Find a short film or video about the impact of drinking on workplace safety or on wellbeing in general.
- Include alcohol-harm information in ongoing occupational health and safety training.
- Make sure your people know what treatment services are available – put up posters or display booklets and include information in training courses and induction programmes.