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Alcohol-related problems cost employers billions

Publish date: 12 June 2019
Issue Number: 290
Diary: Legalbrief Workplace
Category: Workplace

Employees turning up to work hungover, or not turning up at all, cost New Zealand $1.65bn per year, a University of Otago study has found. Lead author Dr Trudy Sullivan says the nation's longstanding issues with alcohol have been well-documented, but little attention has been paid to its impact on workplace productivity. To address this, researchers surveyed 800 employees and 227 employers from a range of industries, looking at the cost of lost productivity through days off work (absenteeism) and lost hours of productive time while at work (presenteeism), as well as hours spent by employers dealing with alcohol-related issues. The results revealed the estimated annual average cost of lost productivity per employee was equal to about five full working days per year. Co-author Dr Fiona Edgar believes a multifaceted approach needs to be taken to reduce the costs of lost productivity. ‘It's not about targeting individuals – research in this area suggests change needs to occur both at the workplace and societal levels. People spend so much of their time at work that makes it a good place to introduce programmes aimed, for example, at promoting a healthy lifestyle.

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