Office Happy Hours – Are They A Good Idea?

May 30, 2013

Spending time in your favourite hostelry with a few of your favourite colleagues can be a great opportunity to bond. It is can also have serious consequences on your reputation and career.

So, are office happy hours a good idea? In this article we look at the pros and cons to help you make up your own mind.

The Pros

When we run team building events for clients we are always encouraging work colleagues to be a bit more open about themselves. This helps others in the team to obtain a much better understanding about them and the way they like to think.

Most managers will consciously create a professional barrier between them and their staff in order that they can effectively manage performance. This is good practice as it is hard to give feedback to a ‘friend’. The main disadvantage is that team members sometimes do not get to see the true person behind this façade.

The main benefit about office happy hours for managers is using it as an opportunity to get to know others better and for them to get to know you. The social setting provides the environment where you can do so without compromising your leadership. It helps to separate work performance from colleague relations. As you are not conscious that ‘time is money’ it can be a good deal easier to spend time on social chit chat and finding out what they do outside of work, to explore their hobbies and what they did before joining the organisation.

The Cons

Office happy hours as the title suggests, is likely to involve alcohol and need we say more! The effects of alcohol on our bodies are well known especially on our ability to maintain self-control.

As a manager we have the responsibility for creating a professional image that is not let down by a few moments of madness. With publicity afforded by social media only a click away, now is the time to be vigilant about our own behaviours and understanding the consequences of our actions.

After the normal day’s stresses it would be too easy to let yourself go and fully relax with a few well intentioned drinks. The trouble comes when the normal boundaries of control are breached and we do something stupid. Even if we are attracted to that co-worker and they to you, getting together at an office happy hour is probably not the time to do it and not wise if either of you are already in a relationship!

The consequences of our behaviours can be so devastating that most sane people will warn against it and certainly looking back at yourself the following day you would likely do the same.

Have A Plan Before You Go

If you do decide to join your team at the office happy hour, it is advisable to have a plan and stick to it.

Knowing the benefits for your team will always be balanced against the risks. Be mindful of the amount of drinks that you will drink and pace your intake accordingly. Aim to maintain a relaxed version of your normal workplace persona and avoid talking about work at all costs. Remember this is the time to find out more about people’s lives outside of work. It is also worth having a set time you will leave together with a valid reason for doing so. Above all be determined to maintain control and enjoy the opportunity.

Many thanks

Chris Gale

Director of Training at MTD Training

(Image by Ambro at

Back To Blog Home