To many workers, there are few phrases that bring more excitement and anticipation to their workday than the phrase “happy hour”.
Here in our job seeker blog, we have talked before about some of the possible pitfalls of mixing alcohol and work-related functions. Whether you are blowing off steam after work or attending the annual holiday party, you can find great opportunities to bond with your coworkers and managers and become a solid team.
But sometimes, coworkers + large amounts of alcohol = serious trouble. Too many Pink Ladies just might land you a pink slip.
According to a new CareerBuilder.com survey, one in five workers say that they attend happy hour festivities with their co-workers at least once a month. Aside from the obvious benefits of happy hour, workers gave these reasons for getting happy at happy hours:
· 82 percent go to happy hour to bond with co-workers.
· 20 percent use their happy time to capitalize on networking opportunities.
· 15 percent say it’s all about getting the good office gossip.
· 13 percent of workers indicated they felt obligated to go.
· 11 percent of those who responded said they wanted to bond with the boss
Our survey indicated a wide range of workers who got happy at happy hour.
· Men and women were equally likely to go.
· Workers in the 25-34 age bracket had the highest attendance (29 percent) while those over 55 had the lowest (15 percent).
· There’s a continental divide in happy hour attendance; workers in the Midwest were most likely to go (at 23 percent), while at 20 percent, workers in the Northeast were least likely to be seen out and about.
· The industries with the highest rate of attendance at happy hour included professional and business services (35 percent), financial services (34 percent), IT workers (29 percent), the sales team (28 percent) and healthcare workers (24 percent).
Despite great intentions, there are some “unhappy hours” where the good times go bad. Our survey revealed a number of incidents and events where a happy hour ended with a stroll down the Walk of Shame.
· 16 percent of those who responded said that they talked negatively or inappropriately about a co-worker or manager.
· 10 percent shared a secret or confidence about a co-worker.
· 8 percent kissed one of their co-workers.
· 8 percent admitted that they drank too much and acted unprofessionally.
· 5 percent breached a confidence or secret about the company.
· 4 percent of workers admitted the scariest confession of all – they sang at karaoke!
Here’s a few ideas on how to make quality time with your coworkers be a buzz and not a buzzkill.
Eat, then drink and be merry.
If you’re heading to happy hour right after work, chances are you’re going to end up drinking on an empty stomach. That makes your body absorb any alcohol much quicker, which can have a big effect on your body and your behavior. To avoid this pitfall, try eating in the afternoon about an hour before the end of your workday.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Avoid any temptation to drink for an audience. You may have a competitive work environment or team, but assuming that you have to match them drink for drink is a bad idea. If you intend to have more than one drink, be sure to pace yourself. If “happy hour” ends up lasting for several hours, alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones.
Location, location, location.
Everyone wants a spot with great food and awesome drinks. You should also look for a place that has room to move around in and areas for games. Old standbys like pool and darts are one option. Many places with the space and resources will also organize games. You can still get your drink on, but engaging your mind and interacting with co-workers makes you less likely to be glued to the barstool.
To avoid any uncomfortable moments, set some expectations and boundaries for the experience you and your co-workers want to have. That may mean defining what is on the list of libations (shots are NEVER a good idea). It is probably a good idea for everyone to buy their own drinks, to avoid any hurt feelings if someone forgets to pick up a round (or always avoids doing so). And most importantly, you may want to define a time limit, so that everyone has a clear sense of when playtime is over.
Hopefully, these ideas will lead to some rewarding face time with co-workers – instead of a face plant in front of the boss!