It’s Tuesday, 8 pm on a not so spectacular September evening, and you and your team are slightly tipsy in the nearest bar to your office. The work attire you all put on fresh that morning is now slightly crumpled and your dinner (perhaps pasted across your shirt), is an almost expired sandwich from Pret. Despite the fact you have work in less than 12hours, you stay for one more round and it all goes on.
Sound familiar? I’d imagine so. Today, merging the world of business and pleasure, (or alcohol), is inescapable. But why is this happening? Because, whilst employers integrate these ‘social dynamics; into businesses to make them seem more fun and attractive to employees, they, in turn, feel pressured to stay and “network” after hours, and impress the boss.
Some businesses use their ‘boozy culture’ as a marketing tool
Often employers use the fact that their workers ‘go for drinks often’ as a USP for youthful recruits. But employers must be careful, as a ‘fun and sociable’ workforce can turn into a boozy and toxic place to work. So, are you running a boozy office? Is it time for your team to take a sober stance?
1. Your employees are frequently hungover in the office
A hungover head is an easy one to spot.
Usually, they rock up to the office cradling a coffee and a greasy bacon roll, often late. They might get tearful when they are asked to change the ink in the printer or perhaps they’re a bit sleepy and ‘out of it.’
However, they’re displaying their less-than-productive character at work, have you thought that you, as the employer might have had a hand in creating this culture in the first place?
If you’re inviting the entire team to drinks after work every time they hit a target or sign a big client, you have to ask yourself are you not a catalyst in this situation?
2. You use alcohol to help deliver difficult messages
While it is easier for your workforce to bond and discuss matters over a pint of craft beer. You should aim to bring up office issues strictly inside the grounds of the building and when everyone is mentally sound, and not stimulated by alcohol.
This way, those who do not wish to engage in the post working day drinks, will not feel pressurised to attend. Admittedly tough office topics are easier brought up when your three glasses of chardonnay deep.
However, waiting until the six o’clock alcohol fix to talk business creates a work culture where employees can never shut off. Moreover, it could reveal more about your weaknesses as an employer, such as your lack of (sober) confrontation skills.
3. The boozy culture is affecting workplace mental health
Clocking out off the office and into the pub is not good for overall employee mental wellbeing. And how could this not be the case?
Alcohol has been scientifically proven to alter your brain chemistry and act as a depressant. This in turn, alters the perception of the world around you.
Moreover, if your staff operate in an environment where they’re craving an alcoholic beverage by the end of the day, you should ask yourself are you running a mentally as well as physically healthy office environment?
Excessive alcohol consumption can shorten life expectancy
Medical research has also proven that a 40-year-old drinking four units a day above the standard guidelines can knock two years’ off their life expectancy.
Worryingly, the lines between business and pleasure have blended so seamlessly together that it’s not uncommon for many offices to incorporate “beer on tap” or weekly bottomless brunches into their work cultures.
As employers, it’s easy to forget that alcohol is a “mood-altering substance”, where the only difference between a bottle of tequila and class A narcotic is that its sold legally in every corner store in Britain today.
Introduce some ‘sober socalising’
29 million people in the UK today are said to suffer from alcohol addiction. If you are an employer who relies solely on a stiff drink to socialise or even manage your colleagues effectively, then you might want to think about changing your lifestyle habits before it’s too late.
Many employees feel like if they are not creating an inclusive culture if they don’t follow the crowd to the bar. Both employers and employees alike might be feeling that they’re missing an opportunity to build good relations with staff. As an employer, you should offer alternative and healthier ways for all staff to interact with each other.
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.