Objective: Although much research has explored overall alcohol use in the workforce, little research has explored the extent of alcohol use and impairment in the workplace. This study explored the overall prevalence, frequency, and distribution of alcohol use and impairment during the workday.
Method: Data were collected from a national probability sample of 2805 employed adults using a random digit dialing telephone survey. Alcohol use within 2 hours of reporting to work, alcohol use during the workday, working under the influence of alcohol, and working with a hangover were assessed for the 12 months preceding the interview.
Results: Workplace alcohol use and impairment directly affect an estimated 15% of the U.S. workforce (19.2 million workers). Specifically, an estimated 1.83% (2.3 million workers) drink before work, 7.06% (8.9 million workers) drink during the workday, 1.68% (2.1 million workers) work under the influence of alcohol, and 9.23% (11.6 million workers) work with a hangover. The results also suggest that most workplace alcohol use and impairment occur infrequently. The distribution of workplace alcohol use and impairment differs by gender, race, age, marital status, occupation, and work shift.
Conclusion: Workplace alcohol use and impairment are prevalent enough that additional research should focus on their causes and impact on employee productivity. Moreover, clear policies should be in place regarding alcohol use and impairment at work. But despite management's responsibility for the development and enforcement of such policies, managers report elevated rates of consuming alcohol during the workday, working under the influence of alcohol, and working with a hangover.