When alcohol start making you miss deadlines, affect your productivity and gets you lifestyle crisis, then it turns to a problem and the obvious thing is get stressed. PHOTO | FILE
A year or so ago, journalists from the restive Ukambani area had a field day when a local story captured national imagination.
A doctor had passed by his local bar/changaa den and had two or more drinks, as was his custom, before heading to work. But local residents who depended on him for medical assistance had had enough of it and decided to take action. They waited for him and as he walked into the hospital’s compound, blocked his path.
It’s true he was a talented physician but what use was he when he is always inebriated? Won’t he one day give wrong diagnosis? They had had enough — and evidence of their fury and agitation was captured on television for all and sundry to see.
Eventually the local police caught wind of the matter and rescued him from their righteous wrath.
This incident, coupled with tales of people failing to report to work because of having a little too much to drink the night before are all to common.
Employees failing to deliver on deadlines, being overly unkempt at the office environment and cases of stellar staff members’ productivity going haywire due to alcohol has been on the rise.
During the recent National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) Annual Conference, current chairman Mr John Mututho, bemoaned the fact that alcohol has taken root in the lives of many working class people.
According to Mr Mututho, every middle class estate has five to ten wines and spirits shops as well as local bars.
All this indicates an interesting pattern that is slowly creeping into the social fabric of Kenya’s labour force.
“Our upbringing has taught us that alcohol is a bad man’s habit so we cannot blame this dependency on alcohol to our family and social background”, Dr Samson Oteyo a Vocational psychologist. So what changed?
“It’s not something that you can clearly put your finger on but you will agree with me the problem is especially severe among the young and middle aged employees of our economy,” says Dr Daniel Makori, A human resource expert and lecturer at KU.
In a recent study by the Ministry of Labour titled National Manpower survey basic report, it was established that more than 69 per cent of potential employees are below 35 years of age.
These, Dr Makori adds, shows the problem is new thing brought by features characterising the current social lifestyles. “When a graduate gets employed and earns there first year salary, it appears cool to them to have a booze fest. To them is fun but this becomes a problem when it gets out of hand.”
Dr Oteyo, the vocational psychologist, concurs with the HR expert. “Yes at first everything seems quite fine, but when alcohol start making you miss deadlines, affect your productivity and gets you lifestyle crisis, then it turns to a problem and the obvious thing is get stressed,” he says.
On his part, Pastor Morris Gacheru of Jubilee Christian Church (JCC), Nairobi thinks it’s all but a morality issue.
“When you slant a glass of water that is half full what happens?
Not unless the glass is held it can either fall and pour the water, breaking also or turn back to its sitting position and only shove a little.” He explains that our society’s morality, like the glass, is sitting on the brink of disaster and needs to be put right for once and for all.
However, says Dr Oteyo, an alcoholic employee should not be sacked but rather offered support. “The first solution however lies with the employee him/herself.” This, says Dr Oteyo, is because it’s the employee in question who understands firsthand the effects of inebriation that he/she is going through.
“If this has led to stress and it is affecting your productivity, the best way out is to first do self-appraisal and find the actual problem with you”, he offers.
Ask yourself why you are an alcoholic? What is your stage of dependency and how you can go about rescuing yourself?
He explains: “For self-appraisal, there are two ways about it. You first look at all the pressures and demands on both your personal and professional life, and then check whether you have the resources to mitigate this pressures.”
As a sociological solution, Dr Wilson Otenga, A sociology lecturer at KU says the society’s elders have neglected their roles of guiding young people. Senior citizens, he explains, need to take their position in the society and level by being role models.
“By having values, we will be custodians of a measuring rod in which everybody is expected to amount to,” concludes the sociology lecturer.