The consumption of alcohol can often feel like a given in the workplace, from the lunch time pint with coworkers, to the champagne brought out by executives for special occasions. Personally, I know that the three-day hangover I seem to have acquired after my early twenties is a burden I’d rather not carry with me into the next week. With this in mind, we’ve put together a few ways that organizations can improve their work culture– without booze.
Provide incentives that don’t involve alcohol
Incentives that involve a few drinks or a night out will limit those who don’t drink, have to drive home, or indeed just don’t drink very much. It’s important to remember when you’re out drinking with your colleagues to act in a professional manner, something that can easily be forgotten when under the influence with your best office mate.
Boozy work socials also run the risk of feeling like forced fun, with the pressure to drink inevitably causing stress and anxiety that could affect your performance the next day. According to Public Health England, lost productivity due to alcohol use costs the UK economy more than £7 billion annually, whilst an estimated 167,000 working years are lost to alcohol every year.
We all talk about wellness and what it means to us as individuals, but how can organizations practice what they preach? For me, an ideal future for incentives involves spas, museums, maybe even a voucher for some new books or simply some cold hard cash.
Figuring out culture, without the booze
Work hard, play hard, right? Mad Men’s Don Draper and his cult of whiskey weren’t all that far off, with alcohol historically playing a large part in office life – and progressing within it. Establishing clear boundaries in terms of what’s acceptable in your workplace is massively important. Lest we forget partygate.
The issue is that drinking socials can become rowdy, loud environments that either pressure its participants into large volumes of consumption or exclude those that don’t want to. This can also lead to the dreaded burn out, with alcohol dependence and high consumption associated with as much as an 80% risk of burnout.
Look at Mad Men’s Peggy Olson- beginning as Draper’s secretary, Peggy works her way up to second in command via the mode of after-work drinks, gaining her respect in the boy’s club. In terms of combatting this atmosphere, socials that are drinking based shouldn’t be mandatory or pressured to attend. Alcohol-free drinks should always be on offer, too.
Maintain good workplace responses
Safety is a huge concern for those in boozy work cultures. Accounting firm PwC are currently facing a negligence lawsuit, following excessive drinking at a pub golf event in 2019 after which a UK employee was placed in an induced coma. Companies owe a duty of care to their employees, with the guarantee that corporations will safeguard their staff.
To make sure that your team are at their personal and professional best, it’s essential to provide access to effective confidential support, treatment and counselling services. Many workplaces offer training programs, often online or via a day course, for education in the management and prevention of alcohol related risks. Likewise, having contingencies in place for reporting alcohol-related safety issues is crucial.
Now, let’s not ban drinking totally. Socializing with your work pals with the aid of a pint can be a nice way to end the week, discuss any frustrations or celebrate a big win. In making sure that our work cultures are at their best, it’s vital that we create environments in which everyone can participate, with or without alcohol.