Stressed at Work? Here’s a Drink on Me!

Topic: Stress
Publication: Personnel Psychology (AUTUMN 2009)
Article: Daily work stress and alcohol use: Testing the cross-level moderation effects of neuroticism and job involvement
Authors: S. Liu, M. Wang, Y. Zhan, and J. Shi
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Many employees (perhaps as many as 92.5 million in the U.S. alone) use alcohol to cope with daily work stress. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having an adult beverage after a long day of work, but research suggests that employees who use alcohol tend to have more health and work-related problems than those who do not.

Liu, Wang, Zhan and Shi (2009) tested whether certain personality characteristics and job involvement levels make some employees more likely to use alcohol to deal with work-related stress. Liu and colleagues surveyed 37 Chinese employees in Beijing daily over the course of five work weeks about their daily work-stress levels and alcohol consumption.

Liu et al.’s results suggest that for some employees (high in neuroticism and/or high job involvement), alcohol use rises when job-stress rises. Given the known health and psychological risks of alcohol use, Liu and colleagues support the use of stress-reducing programs at work such as training employees to avoid stressful situations (e.g., interpersonal conflicts). They also recommend that organizations take care not to place employees who are high in neuroticism in jobs that may be highly stressful by nature.
Finally, although there are many known advantages to having employees who are high in job involvement (feel that their job is a central part of their life), it may also indicate a greater reliance on alcohol to cope with stressful work situations.

Liu, S., Wang, M., Zhan,, Y., & Shi, J.. (2009). Daily work stress and alcohol use:  Testing the cross-level moderation effects of neuroticism and job involvement. Personnel Psychology, 62, 575-597.