The Akan-model: a Norwegian model for preventing and handling alcohol, drugs and gambling problems in the workplace
The Akan-Model for prevention of drug, alcohol and gambling problems in the workplace is anchored in a three-party cooperation between the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises (NHO) and the Norwegian state. The Akan-model has existed from 1963 and is based on scientific studies on behavior and addictions in the workplace, and more than fifty years of daily dialogue with Norwegian businesses and industries.
The Akan-model consists of three elements:
- Establish a policy for alcohol, drugs and gambling-activities within the workplace, make it known among all employees and integrated as part of the company culture &HSE-work
- Empower leaders to intervene early, and inspire employees to take action when it comes to hazardous alcohol and drug use, as well as gambling
- Offering help for those with a alcohol, drug or gambling-problem by individual Akan-contracts in cooperation with the occupational health care system or the persons doctor
1. Policy: A defined policy and guidelines for preventing and dealing with alcohol-, drug- and gambling problems in the workplace is the most important element in the Akan-model. A study by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Inger Synnøve Moan, 2016) showed that 95 % wanted guidelines for alcohol use within working hours, and 66 % wanted guidelines for alcohol use during social events connected to work.
Akan’s activities are based on collaboration between employers and employees. So far, mostly large enterprises have established a drug and alcohol policy, however, this is also important for small and medium-sized enterprises. The presentation will explain the three elements of the Akan-model thoroughly, and show examples of best-practice from two Norwegian enterprises.
2. Early intervention: “The necessary conversation”. Are you worried that a coworker might have an alcohol, drug or gambling problem? Do you have a gut-feeling that says that something is not right? As a manager, “the necessary conversation” is a tool that enables you to engage in a conversation with someone you worry about, before it becomes a problem. By taking this conversation as early as possible, a starting problem can be reversed before it turns into a bigger problem.
3. Individual Akan-contracts: An individual Akan-contract is an offer to employees that have developed a problem related to alcohol, drugs or gambling. This contract ensures proper treatment and follow-up, as well as it allows individuals with a problem to keep their job. Individual Akan-contracts can be either self-initiated due to own concern or at the request of others, or as a consequence of breach of the working regulations. The contracts must protect the interests of both parties: they should protect the needs the person with a problem has, in order to solve the problem. But they must also address the company’s safety, working environment, quality and reputation requirements. The study from NIPH, 2016 showed that 83 % answered that the workplace should offer help to employees with alcohol problems.
A study among 385 individual Akan-contracts (Akan Advisory Centre, 2016) shows that 40 % of the contracts were initiated by the employee himself asking for help, and by a conversation regarding a concern from the manager. The rest of the Akan-contracts (60 %), were initiated because of breach of the company policy or regulations. 80 % of the individuals having a contract were still working in the company a year after the contract had been signed.
The core idea is that people can get help before the problems run to deep, which in some instances, might lead to losing your job. We experience very little resistance to this way of thinking, because people see the value of keeping skilled workers, while avoiding the tragedies of letting them drink their way out their job.
Akan Advisory Centre: Akan advisory centre was created to prevent drug and alcohol abuse in Norwegian workplaces, and to guide companies on how to provide help to employees with alcohol, drug and gambling problems.
The Akan Advisory Centre, owned by The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises (NHO) and the Norwegian state, helps Norwegian companys to prevent and handle issues related to alcohol, drugs, gaming and gambling by offering:
- Tailored in-house courses and digital courses for managers, HR, safety representatives and union representatives
- A free, anonymous help line where you can ask about anything from advice to guidance if you have a problem that needs to be solved
- Free digital tools, brochures, and information
- Company visits and video meetings