How Smoking Impacts Work Performance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the use of tobacco in the workplace has significantly decreased in the past decades. This is largely due to the mainstream awareness of tobacco’s impact on the development of serious health issues like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, to name a few. That said, 19.6% of workers in the US are still active smokers, and most choose to indulge in the habit while at work. Additionally, only 27 states and the District of Columbia have smoke-free workplace policies.
This reflects just how overlooked smoking’s wider consequences in terms of the workplace are. In reality, though, smoking is one of the most career-harming habits that a worker can have, given its massive effects on performance. With this, here are some of the common ways smoking can negatively influence worker performance and the workplace.
Table of Contents
Smoking Contributes To Absenteeism
Considering the effects of tobacco use, it has a significant impact on employee health. In addition to the risk of the aforementioned long-term health conditions, smokers become more vulnerable to catching sicknesses like the common cold or flu, as smoking weakens the immune system.
Smokers are likely to suffer from aches and pains that make it difficult to be present for work. Case in point, nicotine can cause headaches. Nicotine is one of the many chemicals found in tobacco products and it makes blood vessels narrow, which could affect blood circulation to the body, including the brain. Nicotine also alters pain receptors over time, so smokers can become more sensitive to things that do not normally affect them like back strains. In line with this, research found that smokers are 31% more likely to file for sick leave compared to their non-smoker counterparts
Smoking affects productivity
For some smokers, their productivity is often affected by their habit. This is because smoking generally decreases concentration and could lead to delays in submissions, lower quality of work, and difficulty keeping up with workplace demands. Moreover, smokers are more likely to take smoking breaks throughout their shift, which distracts them from work and uses up time which could have been spent productively.
According to Employee Benefit News, cigarette smoking costs businesses nearly $185 billion in lost productivity from smoking-related complications. Additionally, fire insurance costs for the workplace are also likely to increase since smoking is considered a serious hazard. As such, many establishments have to cover a heftier premium even if they’ve outfitted designated smoking areas.
Smoking can disrupt workplace culture
In addition to health and productivity, smoking also presents social consequences that can disrupt workplace culture. Since smokers are more likely to take sick leaves, employees who cover their shifts or shoulder an extra workload can harbor ill feelings towards a coworker who is constantly absent due to smoking-related issues. Non-smoker employees are also at risk of exposure to secondhand smoke, which can be a source of tension in the workplace since non-smokers are subjected to health issues caused by their smoker colleagues. Not having a good workplace culture could impact performance since it affects communication and willingness to collaborate for work.
If a company is trying to create a fun company culture, smoking can also be a hurdle, as it can affect employee participation. Workers who are sick or too busy taking smoke breaks are less likely to take part in group initiatives. Similarly, non-smoker employees with cultural or religious sensitivities may be less comfortable interacting with those who partake in cigarettes.