Drinking and working do not go well together for most people. Unfortunately, the happy hour culture at the workplace has made it a norm to drink alcohol to unwind after a week or day of hard work.
At a time when the world around us is changing, we need to ask ourselves an important question. Are we incapable of having a good time without an external substance that alters the state of our minds? Most people would want to answer no. In fact, a growing number of people would deny the proposition. A 2018 study shows that Gen Z drinks 20% less alcohol than millennials on average, and millennials drink less than the previous generations.
Today we will talk about ways you can celebrate happy hours at the office without the booze. But first, we need to understand why you should think about it at all.
Alcohol is bad for you
While we understand all the arguments in favor of drinking alcohol, there's no denying the fact that it's bad for you, just like smoking. The number of smokers has come down drastically over the last several decades. But if we go back a few decades, smoking was seen as a common social activity.
It's plain fact that alcohol is bad for you. Apart from cancer, alcohol can also cause type 2 diabetes, liver diseases, heart problems, and stroke. When we are younger, we often do not feel the repercussions of alcohol apart from a bad hangover. But once we get closer to our forties, the effects start showing up.
The worst part about alcohol is alcoholism. People who are addicted to alcohol face a range of social and physical problems, and they don't end on a good note. It's also very difficult to kick off alcohol addiction, as is evident from the large number of people who relapse.
Why are people drinking less?
As we learn more about alcohol, the less likely we are to continue drinking it, at least not in copious amounts. Alcohol use directly affects the workplace performance of 15% of the total US workforce.
The reasons behind people quitting alcohol are varied. Some do it for a social factor since they do not feel comfortable drunk in public. Others do it from a strict health perspective. For yet others, quitting or not drinking alcohol at all may be a spiritual and religious choice.
There's no doubt about the fact the younger generation is more aware of their health. Some of it also has to do with their increased awareness of self-image. Good health is not as much an aesthetic factor as a well-being idea.
Social media also plays a role in the reducing number of people who drink. Many people are worried about images and videos of their drunk selves that may live forever on the internet. At a time when our social media profiles can get us fired, it's prudent to not act foolish in public, drunk or not.
Why is it important to accommodate non-drinkers?
Workplaces should be inclusive spaces. That means we also need to think about people who do not drink alcohol, for whatever reason it may be.
As we already mentioned, Gen Z is already moving towards sobriety faster than any previous generation. Concisdering that Gen Z would make up bulk of the workforce in the future, it's important to come up with alternative ways to celebrate happy hours.
No matter where you are at life, you can always switch to sobriety, gradually or cold turkey. If you want a truly inclusive workforce, let non-drinkers come up with ways to celebrate and unwind without alcohol.
Ways to celebrate happy hours without alcohol
When you are creative enough, there are a lot of ways to celebrate happy hours without alcohol. Before anything, the entire team has to be on the same page. If everyone is not on board with the idea of celebrating without alcohol, it would not be fun.
Here are some ideas on celebrating happy hours without the booze:
Bring everyone on board
As we already said, everyone needs to be on the same page to have a great happy hours' celebration without alcohol. Introduce the idea of celebrating booze-free happy hour to all team members. Also, don't make it mandatory to not consume alcohol. Let everyone choose what they want to do, but introduce the idea and see how they react.
In almost every case, some people would be delighted at the idea of not having to drink for a social event. But to do that, you need to have suitable alternatives. There are great zero-alcohol wines, beers, and liquors that you can get and ask everyone to get.
If your zero-alcohol drinks stand out, no one will have any problem reducing alcohol in team events. Booze often acts as a prop to conversations and interactions, and zero-alcohol drinks can easily replace that.
Encourage interpersonal interactions
In the humdrum of life, we often forget to have real conversations with the people around us, working with us every day. Happy hours can easily be a time when everyone just chats and has a good time.
Some of the ideas you can use include icebreaker games and discussions on charged topics like sports and politics. It's astonishing how passionately people defend the ideas they believe in, and how conflicting ideas help more in building cooperation than homogenous ideas.
Most people rely on alcohol to have conversations. Once they start doing it without alcohol, booze-free parties would be even more fun.
Include non-alcoholic drinks in every party menu
Non-alcoholic drink does not only mean non-alcoholic beer and wine. It also includes a range of mocktails and any general drink that does not have alcohol. Once you start doing this consciously, you would realize how much of our everyday beverages involve alcohol.
When non-alcoholic drinks are a part of the menu, those who don't drink do not feel left out. They can now enjoy a social occasion just like anyone else, and the inclusion of non-alcoholic drinks would not bother anyone either.
Make consent a part of office culture
Too often we would simply assume that the other person drinks alcohol. To not offend anyone, make sure everyone asks if the other person drinks alcohol unless they haven't had the same conversation before.
When someone says that don't drink, respect their decision. Do not pressurize them to do it just one time or something like that. With so many people not drinking nowadays, it's unwise to assume that everyone has an affinity for alcohol.
We can avoid many awkward situations by simply asking others about their preferences of drinks, especially alcohol.
Evauluate the role of booze in the workplace
Booze has always been a part of social structures. Ask yourself if booze is playing a big role in how people in your workplace interact. Around 7.06% of the US workforce drinks during their working hours, and 1.83% drink before coming to work. These percentages are very low, but it's not zero.
If someone in your workplace arrives drunk, you do not have the moral right of accusing them of slacking. However, what you can do is make the workplace more booze-free. If the office culture rewards hard work with booze, many people would naturally assume it's the only we can celebrate hard work. A fundamental shift in the office culture is necessary to make it less booze-dependent.
Different people react differently to alcohol, but everyone has the potential to get hooked. Make sure that their workplace does not further push them towards alcoholism.
At the same time, it's important to not vilify people who love alcohol or are addicted to it. Inclusivity also means giving people the right to make their own choices. If someone wants alcohol in every office event, let them have it unless it's against the protocols.
Fun Ideas for Booze-free Happy Hours
Once you have evaluated where the workforce stands in terms of accepting nonalcoholic beverages, it's time to introduce some fun to the happy hours. The core purpose of happy hour is to give employees a time and space to relax and unwind. It's possible to have a relaxing time without alcohol. In fact, it's possible to relax only without alcohol. Too much alcohol can turn relaxation into stress and anxiety.
Who doesn't like a good movie? The best thing about movies is that not everyone has the same taste. To arrive at a decision is more fun than actually watching the movie together.
As far as the choice of movie is concerned, try to stick to light-hearted comedy. But if there's a recent masterpiece that everyone is up for watching, that'd also be a great idea.
Sometimes, movie nights/evenings can stretch for a long time. To avoid that, screen shorter movies that do not run past an hour and half maximum. It's a simple thing that any workplace can incorporate.
Go outside and do something together
All founders and leaders note that team building is possible only when the team works together both inside and outside the office. In regular happy hours celebrations, nobody leaves the premises of the office. But if you ditch the alcohol, there are so many things you can do outside.
Visait a museum, go to a park, play paintball, or race go karts. Most of us have forgotten what the world outside looks like after spending a year indoor. Now is the time to go outside and have some fun. Leacing the alcohol behind won't take anything away from these activities.
Play competitive games
Veery professional has a competitive streak in them. Once it is triggered, alcohol or any other stimulant is unnecessary.
There are many competitive game ideas to choose from. It can range from video games to physical mystery solving games. The ideas to pit one team against another to see who comes out on top.
Competitive games can go outside the office space as well, with a game of soccer or basketball. There's no limit to the things you can do in a competitive fashion as long as you are creative.
Host food-only parties
Many of us love to drink, but all of us love to eat. Food-only parties focus on exclusively on the food and everything else takes the sideline. It's a great idea to bring people together since food is something we all bond over.
If you have a diverse workforce, you can ask everyone to bring a dish that's special in their culture. It's not just an opportunity to have good food, but also a chance to make the know more about the backgrounds of each person on the team.
Come up with personalized games
Nobody knows a team better than the people in it. As a result, the best games that you can play would be your own games. Personalized card games, for example, are better than traditional card games like Cards Against Humanity. Ask everyone to pitch their ideas and choose from the best of them.
Having a good time without alcohol is not as difficult as it sounds. But before anything, you need to be open to the possibility of having a blast without the booze. From there, there's no limit to the things you can do to have amazing alcohol-free happy hours celebrations.