Scientific Article
New Zealand: Economic Harm of Employee Alcohol Use

Trudy Sullivan Fiona Edgar Ian McAndrew
Sullivan, T. , Edgar, F. and McAndrew, I. (2019), The hidden costs of employee drinking: A quantitative analysis. Drug Alcohol Rev.. doi:10.1111/dar.12935
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    Drug and Alcohol Review
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The hidden costs of employee drinking: A quantitative analysis

Original Paper


Introduction and Aims

Alcohol use impacts workplace productivity in terms of absence and reduced performance by employees. This study’s aims were to estimate the cost of lost productivity associated with alcohol use in New Zealand and to describe and quantify its impact on employers.

Design and Methods

An online survey was completed by 800 New Zealand employees and 227 employers across a range of industries. The costs of lost productivity directly attributable to alcohol use were estimated using days off work (absenteeism), lost hours of productive time while at work (presenteeism) and hours spent by employers dealing with alcohol‐related issues.

Ordinal logistic regression was used to explore the association between employee characteristics and reduced workplace productivity associated with alcohol consumption.


The estimated annual average cost of lost productivity per employee was NZ$1097.71 (NZ$209.62 absenteeism, NZ$888.09 presenteeism) and NZ$134.62 per employer.

At a population level this equates to approximately NZ$1.65 billion per year.

The significant predictors of reduced workplace performance were being younger (less than 25 years), male, having a stressful job and consuming more than the recommended standard number of alcoholic drinks per session.

Discussion and Conclusions

Considering absenteeism costs alone will substantially underestimate the total productivity loss associated with alcohol use. Designing and effectively targeting a set of multifaceted policies to engineer change at both the workplace and societal levels will assist in reducing the costs of lost productivity due to alcohol.

Source Website: Wiley Online Library