Valérie Fernandez

By Valérie Fernandez

October 10, 2018


Promoting sobriety in the workplace

Article revised on 30 October 2018

With the imminent cannabis legalization, Internet addiction issues constantly in the news, discussing the subject of dependency with your employees is always relevant. Promoting sobriety, i.e. controlled and moderate consumption, is a good way to address the issues associated with dependency, whether it has to do with drugs, alcohol or gaming.

What is the employer’s role? How do you intervene in an appropriate manner? Here are a few ideas for effective action.

What is sobriety?

Encouraging sobriety does not mean promoting abstinence. Rather, it means urging mindfulness and restraint: indulgence but in moderation. When people demonstrate sobriety in their consumption choices, whether it’s food, alcohol, drugs or gaming, they guard against dependency and the often disastrous consequences it can have on their personal and professional life and on their physical and mental health.

Talk about it openly

By encouraging sobriety, your organization demonstrates that it cares about the health and wellness of its employees.

Wondering how to bring up the subject with your team members? It’s all a matter of mutual trust and empathy. You can take the lead by creating an environment conducive to introspection and sharing.

For example, during a team meeting, you could take a moment to ask your employees to, using a self-evaluation tool (such as a questionnaire), consider their consumption of products that could lead to dependency. You could then invite (but not oblige) them to share their findings.

However, there is absolutely no room for judgment of any kind, as that could cause the persons in question to turn in on themselves. We all have things that we’re going through, and respect is essential in such a delicate matter.

Another way to get the conversation started is to invite your team members to take part in a temporary abstinence campaign, such as the OcSober challenge. It’s a fun and accessible way to make people more conscious of their alcohol consumption and give them an opportunity to talk about it openly.

When action is needed

Do you believe that one of your employees has a dependency issue? A number of resources are available. The Association des intervenants en dépendance du Québec (AIDQ) offers expert advice (in French), at an affordable price, and tools that can help you intervene in an appropriate manner.

Don’t hesitate to bring up the matter privately with the employee concerned. Invite the employee to contact the AIDQ or any of the other resources available, such as:

  • Employee assistance program
  • Your integrated health and social services centre
  • Psychologist
  • Associations that help people fight different dependencies: Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, etc.

A win-win!

The benefits of sobriety are numerous. For employees, first of all, it’s a matter of good physical and mental health. By observing moderation in their consumption, people necessarily make healthier and more balanced choices, which often come down to essential values. At work, the consequences associated with such choices are infinite:

  • Optimized productivity
  • Happiness at work
  • Healthier atmosphere
  • Motivation

For the company, the benefits are just as significant. Your people are your organization’s most valuable asset. By promoting health, wellness and balance, you are most likely to be able to rely on having loyal, high-performance employees. By integrating such values as sobriety and balance into your company and promoting them will motivate your employees to develop themselves. That, alone, will boost your employee retention.

A special thanks to Le Grand Chemin for their collaboration on writing this article.

Want to know more?

Read our other article on the subject!

Check out this guide on accommodating substance dependence created by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Want to encourage your employees to adopt healthy lifestyle habits?

Discover the VIVA workplace health and wellness program.

Visit our website

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