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When After-Work Happy-Hour Isn’t so "Happy"

The pandemic changed many things for all of us, and one of the significant rituals it changed for people was a decline in after-work get togethers or happy hours. To keep a feeling of normalcy and stay in touch, many turned to online happy hours. However, drinking from home can have several downfalls; one is that you may drink more at home than in public since it’s cheaper and easier. When you drink excessively, you may not think about what you’re saying and the impact it could have on a co-worker. If you have recently started back to in-person happy hours, these five reminders will help you enjoy your colleagues without jeopardizing your job or reputation.

1. Be honest about your alcohol limits and keep your boundaries. Many people found themselves drinking more on online happy hours. Re-adjusting your alcohol limits and sticking to those limits allows you to forage new work connections which will help you be successful in your career and life. Drinking in public affects individuals differently than drinking alone without socialization. Make a plan and stick to it and never drink and drive. Everything you do and say during happy hour influences how others perceive you at work.

2. Be prepared to greet each other. Whether you plan to shake hands or elbow bump, it’s better to have it rehearsed before you go so you won’t feel awkward or caught off guard.

3. Be aware of and avoid gossip. Online work meetings allowed you more access to seeing someone’s home, their pets, and perhaps other family members. Avoid gossip about co-workers. If the topic comes up, change the topic or turn your attention to someone else at the table. When people combine alcohol with socializing, work etiquette norms are often ignored. Limiting your alcohol intake and where you focus your attention can help you prevent saying something you later regret.

4. Pace yourself with get-togethers. Seeing your colleagues again and engaging in pre-pandemic meet ups is a much-needed stress relief, but don’t get carried away. Social happy hours are for sharing laughter and survival stories of the pandemic, not venting about how miserable or angry you are. Save this sort of topic for a personal meet up with a close friend or mental health professional.

5. Plan for a safe exit. Be prepared before you go about how you will get home and have a reasonable time limit you plan to stay. Ask a friend or spouse to give you a reminder call of what time you planned to leave. That ensures you’ll not get carried away and forget the time, and you will have someone expecting you.

The pandemic changed our personal and professional lives forever. One of the lessons we realized was how important our co-workers and careers were to us. Enjoying each other at the end of a workday with a happy hour is a wonderful way to build morale and boost motivation. Therefore, take time to prepare social happy hours remain a positive for the workplace.


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