Supporting Staff Sobriety During the Holiday Season

December 05, 2023

The Christmas period can be fun and full of joy, but for some it can be a period of isolation and challenge. For staff and colleagues, the Christmas period at work can be synonymous with the Christmas party period. For those who choose not to drink alcohol or may be struggling with addiction, during the holiday season it’s important to provide support and understanding. Here are some ways your business can make the work environment more addiction aware and inclusive this year at Christmas:

  • Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)

Some employees may be unaware that their employer already provides access to support through their employee assistance programme offerings. If your company has an existing EAP and employees have access to health and wellbeing resources provided by you, now is the time to remind them it’s there and available for them to use. Do you offer supports, but you are unsure how to communicate these effectively? Ibec has created an EAP format guideline all members can avail of:

{EAP Format}

  • Manager awareness

Empower managers to recognise and deal with the signs of addiction in the workplace. If management express uncertainty in this area, consider training managers to enable them to deal with both the possibility of these issues arising in the workplace and the disclosure of addiction issues by employees. You can find tips and further resources here:

{Addiction Awareness for Managers}

  • Provide alternative beverages

The popularity of 0.0 is growing in Ireland, with a continuous expansion in products from major brands. Offer a range of non-alcoholic beverages at work events to provide enjoyable options for those who choose not to drink alcohol. Not everyone wants a non-alcoholic beer or liquor, so make sure to have plenty of soft drinks and water. Ensure that your company has clear alcohol policies in place for all events. Communicate these policies to all employees well in advance of any holiday parties. Make it clear that excessive drinking and inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated. Unsure of your obligations to staff safety and wellbeing as an employer? Check out our Ibec article on the misuse of intoxicants in the workplace to see your obligations (and those of an employee):

{Misuse of intoxicants in the workplace}

  • Educational workshops

Consider offering workshops or seminars on alcohol awareness and responsible drinking. These can raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with alcohol addiction. If the time isn’t there for a workshop, think about placing educational posters at strategic places such as entrances and bathrooms. Managers should also be made aware of the assorted reasons why employees may feel the need to bow out of Christmas parties and other events that feature alcohol and ensure there is no stigma attached to not being there.

It's important for businesses to create an environment that prioritises the well-being of their employees and provide reasonable accommodation for those dealing who may be dealing with addiction issues. If you are a member with queries on reasonable accommodations, check out our handy FAQ or contact our knowledge centre team:


{Ibec Knowledge Centre}

By taking proactive measures and fostering a culture of support and understanding, companies can help employees enjoy the holiday season while maintaining their commitment to a fun, safe and inclusive workplace.


Conor Gibbons, Executive, Ibec Networks