Hosting an office happy hour can be a great bonding experience for you and your employees – it’s a chance for your team to let their hair down without the pressures or dynamics of ‘work’ getting in their way of being able to connect with each other. Team happy hours can be a real crowd pleaser and can help individuals unwind after a tough work day. They are also a fun way to help reward hard work, and improve company culture and the work environment.
That said, mixing work and fun can sometimes be complicated. So it is important that these get togethers are as inclusive as possible so that everybody is excited about being with their team for some after work fun.
Get To Know Your Employees
It’s 2023, there are a multitude of reasons that people choose not to drink alcohol, and they should not be made to feel uncomfortable attending a work event and not wanting to drink. Make sure that whatever venue you choose for your happy hour has more to it than just the element of drinking with your teammates. It’s also important that employees do not feel pressured to attend or participate in the drinking-related elements of your events.
Make Team Happy Hour Attendance Optional
Events where alcohol is present, should never be required. You should make it clear that the events are an optional bonding experience and that no one’s career will be harmed if they cannot attend the event for personal reasons. We all have our own lives to take care of and you should never have to justify not going to an after work activity.
Redefine Happy Hour Drinks (Or Make Them Less Potent!)
If you’re going to offer employees happy hour drinks, consider limiting the drinks to beer, wine, or a premixed cocktail with a mild alcohol content.
Or, maybe serving alcoholic beverages just isn’t the right choice for your team. Perhaps you’d like to offer alternatives to beer and wine for folks who don’t want to partake.
Instead of serving alcohol, think about serving:
- Coffee or tea
- Sodas (many stores sell craft sodas and interesting flavors – think about offering a tasting bar!)
- Milkshakes (think different flavors and toppings)
There are many things you can serve in a bar that wouldn’t make people intoxicated but would still be fun and offer an ‘ice breaker’ for after-hours events.
Serve Food With Drinks
As a general rule, if you decide to serve alcoholic drinks, you should serve food as well. Whether you’re ordering in pizzas, offering appetizers, or even just snacks, it’s a good idea to offer sustenance.
Provide Activities Throughout The Event
Your entire event doesn’t have to revolve around the drinks you serve and by removing the primary focus from drinking, you’ll include to the team members who maybe don’t drink or don’t want to drink.
Here are some ideas for activities and party themes:
- Host a town hall where employees can ask questions and have informal discussion about the company
- Fun activities and party games such as scavenger hunts, office Olympics, or playing board and card games. You could even do indoor sports such as ping pong
- Host your version of trivia night with company or local trivia questions
- Bring in a speaker or panel (either from outside the company or from your own team!)
- Work on a non-work related team project such as volunteering
- Offer a class like art or cooking
- Theme party – mini happy hour events such as Valentine, Halloween, St Patrick’s Day or Christmas
- Host a movie night, or hiring a photo booth can also prove to be a lot of fun.
Make Arrangements For Employees To Get Home If Necessary
It is best practice, as someone organizing the happy hour, to have a ride lined up for any employee who needs it to get home safely, like ride-share or a taxi. Make it clear that anyone who needs one can expense it and leave their car at the office, no questions asked.
Have some fun giveaways
Having a contest or giveaway for team happy hour can be a great way to increase excitement and engagement. The prizes don’t have to break the bank and are a good chance to giveaway some fun company swag. Drink/Happy Hour based items are great choices, including branded barware, like shot glasses, pint glass or cocktail shaker. Or another fun option is some apparel or drinkware, like water bottles or even a portable blender. These small giveaways are great ways to have some fun or show employees you appreciate them.
Hosting a company happy hour is a great way to build a bond between the individuals on a team, and to show employee appreciation. By shifting the focus from alcohol to spending casual time together as a team, you can create a safe, happy hour experience that is classy and comfortable for everyone. So next time you are planning a office happy hour or themed party consider some of these party ideas (and issues) for an event to really shine and be the talk of the break room for all the right reasons.