Akan: Alcohol - A Social Glue with a High Price in Norwegian Workplaces?
10.07.2023 - Akan Competence Center, a leading organisation specialising in workplace alcohol culture analysis, has recently unveiled a significant report titled "Social Glue with a High Price – Drinking Culture in Norwegian Workplaces". Drawing upon data gathered between 2018 and 2022, the report provides a detailed investigation into the social and personal implications of alcohol use in Norwegian workplaces. Its findings come in the aftermath of the traditional workplace summer party, a time when many employees unwind with their colleagues before heading into their vacation period. However, the report suggests that the effects of these gatherings, marked often by considerable alcohol consumption, may linger far beyond the event itself, impacting not only work dynamics but personal lives and relationships as well.
The "Drikkeprat" dialogue tool provided by the Akan Competence Center gathers data about alcohol consumption behaviour and its effects on organisations. The data gathered between 2018 and 2022 has been analysed in their latest report, "Social Glue with a High Price – Drinking Culture in Norwegian Workplaces".
One critical finding of the report is that uncomfortable experiences associated with alcohol in work-related situations, like the summer party, tend to spill over into private life. According to the data, 8% of those who used the Drikkeprat tool reported that alcohol use at work negatively impacted their family life and leisure time, while 54% said it had some effect.
The report also notes the pressure to drink alcohol at work parties, with 10% of respondents reporting that they found it challenging to decline alcoholic beverages in such situations. These findings serve as a stark warning sign, underlining the need for organisations to tackle this issue to maintain employees' work-life balance.
Interestingly, the report reveals that over half (51%) of Drikkeprat users indicated that alcohol consumption at work parties positively impacts the work environment. While this suggests alcohol can play a role in fostering relationships and creating an inclusive atmosphere, the report also highlights its potential for exclusion. Around 300,000 individuals reportedly skipped work parties due to colleagues' alcohol use or the pressure to drink.
In 2021, the Norwegian government, alongside workplace representatives, embarked on an initiative to promote awareness about alcohol use in the workplace. As a result, a campaign dubbed "Thoughts from the Work Party" was launched last autumn on digital and social media. The campaign was re-launched before the summer party season, aiming to promote reflections on alcohol use at work parties and increase acceptance for choosing not to drink.
Despite these efforts, the Akan report shows that almost half (45%) of the Drikkeprat tool users were unsure if they could talk about uncomfortable alcohol-related experiences at work. This highlights the importance of robust whistleblowing systems, even outside working hours.
The report underscores that an effective alcohol policy can create a safe and inclusive working environment. Such policies, clearly stating the acceptable norms related to alcohol use during working hours and job-related situations, can provide predictability for both managers and employees. Proactive measures in dealing with alcohol use in the workplace, according to the Akan report, are a small investment that can yield significant benefits in the short and long term, including a more cohesive team and a more inclusive working environment.
The Akan Competence Center offers the Drikkeprat dialogue tool at www.akan.no. Although the data was not initially gathered for research purposes, the findings have been deemed insightful and worthwhile. The report is based on responses recorded from mid-February 2018 to the end of September 2022.
The full report can be accessed at: https://akan.no/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/rapport-nett.pdf.