Half a million people go to work hungover every day

A report suggests the average worker comes in with a hangover at least three times a month...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Feeling a bit rough this morning, after one too many last night? Well, around 519,999 other people are in the same boat, according to research by alcohol charity Drinkaware. Apparently nearly one in ten workers will have a hangover this morning, while the average person will stumble into the office bleary-eyed, dry-mouthed and with a higher-than-average craving for a bacon-and-egg sandwich at least three times a month. And that’s before the World Cup starts. Doesn’t really bode well for productivity, does it?

Not surprisingly, those who go to work with a hangover (and we don’t think it’d be too presumptuous to suggest that younger staff are the worst culprits) have problems keeping on top of their workload: one in five admit to making mistakes, while 7% say they’ve had to leave work early from the resulting ‘illness’.

One of the problems is that managers can often appear to have a double standard when it comes to hangovers, as this survey shows: 89% of people think it’s ‘unacceptable’ to go to work thus afflicted, yet 60% say they’ve had a bit of a joke about it with their boss or colleagues. If it’s officially frowned upon, but unofficially tolerated or even laughed at, it’s no wonder staff keep doing it.

Still, any business feeling let down by its red-eyed staff should spare a thought for Carlsberg, which was threatened with strike action in April after telling its Danish workforce they were only allowed to drink at lunchtime. Remarkably, warehouse staff and drivers at the factory were previously entitled to three beers a day; but in an effort to up productivity, bosses restricted drinking times to lunch and after work. Staff were outraged at this flagrant infringement of their fundamental human right to neck lager on work time: 'We have never had a problem with accidents or anything with alcohol involved,' protested one. That’s as may be – though we wonder how much time was lost to toilet breaks.

Of course, the serious side to this story is that hangovers aren’t necessarily a laughing matter for employers; not only is repeated boozing bad for your employees’ health; but the after-effects can cause disruption, accidents and lower productivity. You obviously can't stop people drinking on their own time, so you can't avoid hangovers altogether - but it's worth having some clear policies in place for those who cross the line too often. And some strong coffee, perhaps.

In today's bulletin:

Will Cameron, Osborne and co water down the proposed CGT hike?
Apple share price ripens to pip Microsoft to top spot
Lakeland and Richer Sounds are top of the shops
Half a million people go to work hungover every day
John Vincent: Things we know and unlearn (then have to learn again)

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Want to encourage more female leaders? Openly highlight their achievements

A study shows that publicly praising women not only increases their willingness to lead, their...

Message to Davos: Don't blame lack of trust on 'society'

The reason people don't trust you is probably much closer to home, says public relations...

Dame Cilla Snowball: Life after being CEO

One year on from stepping back as boss of Britain's largest advertising agency, Dame Cilla...

How to change people's minds when they refuse to listen

Research into climate change deniers shows how behavioural science can break down intransigence.

"Paying women equally would cripple our economy"

The brutal fact: underpaid women sustain British business, says HR chief Helen Jamieson.

Why you're terrible at recruitment (and can AI help?)

The short version is you're full of biases and your hiring processes are badly designed....