How can the culture of a company affect alcohol and drug consumption in the workplace?
Workplace culture is incredibly important as it reflects the identity of the company and affects all employees who work there. But it is also a complex system, shaped by the individuals, processes and systems of the company.
Company culture is one of the main motivators for performance in a company. A culture that accepts and encourages alcohol and drug use without setting up procedures to deal with the resulting issues and fostering awareness among senior managers, can lead to serious problems.
Repeated alcohol or drug use during office hours will, for some, lead to addiction. They will not be able to function at work without the alcohol or drugs they have become accustomed to through the company culture.
Culture and peer pressure
Peer pressure is the way individuals or groups influence the behaviour and attitudes of others. It can be positive or negative. Organisational culture and peer pressure are directly linked. That is not to say that the ‘official’ culture of a company is affected by peer pressure, but certainly the ‘informal’ culture of the company is. For example a company might state in their official guidelines that employees must not work longer than a certain amount of hours each week. However the culture of that company could still be one where, due to peer pressure, employees regularly work late into the night.
We naturally conform to fit in with those around us. If there is peer pressure to act in a certain way, coming from a manager, this will filter down and affect the people working within the company, until most people are acting the same way. For example, if a manager embraces daytime drinking in their department employees will feel obliged to go along with it. This behaviour could become a part of that department’s culture, and inevitably performance will start to decline.
Even if a company is still successful in terms of profits, a negative culture can result in staff dissatisfaction, absenteeism, high staff turnover and ultimately damage the reputation of the company as a place to work.
It is important for employers and managers to recognise the culture within their company and ensure that it is a positive, motivational culture, that makes the working environment a good and productive place to work. Managers and senior managers need to be supervised and appraised and staff feedback needs to be listened to. A drug and alcohol policy needs to be in place and managers must show that they understand its significance to the performance of the company.