Everybody loves work drinks. They’re a great way to wind down before the weekend and most of the time it’s free! But watch out, free drinks for a group of people wanting to de-stress could end in disaster, for them, and the business.
Like you would at home you should provide plenty of food and a range of beverage options, be prepared to slow down service to people who are drinking too fast, and make sure everyone has a safe way home.
But there are different dynamics with work drinks that require some specific strategies to keep things sociable and safe:
Brief the caterers
If you’re bringing in wait-staff, or holding your function at a bar or restaurant, tell the caterers you expect them to serve responsibly, and stop serving people who are intoxicated. Also ask them to offer water with every top up.
Limit the tab
Staff always appreciate a few drinks on the boss, but it can also be an invitation for people to drink more than they usually would. By limiting the tab — a couple of drinks per person should be enough — you’re sending a positive message that you’re together to celebrate a job well done. If people want to carry on, it’s at their cost. Make sure lower alcohol options and non-alcoholic drinks are on the tab too.
Feed the team
Put as much emphasis on the food as the drinks. Offer more than a few bags of chips. Think about ordering in pizzas or throwing a BBQ. It’ll make the whole occasion more sociable and show your team you really appreciate them.
Focus on families
Involving families in staff occassions, and organising some entertainment, is a good way to focus the team on having fun together rather than just drinking. Maybe you could do something fun for your next office get together like go-carting, laser-force, a trip to the zoo, holding an old-school sports day, or a parents and young people's movie night.
Look after your under 18s
If you have staff who are under 18 make sure you are legally allowed to serve them alcohol, and if you do, keep an extra close eye on them. Under 18s are only allowed to be served alcohol by someone other than their parent or legal guardian at a ‘private social gathering’. This means attendance must be by personal invitation only, and no money can change hands, either over a bar or by way of an alcohol inclusive ticket.
Make sure a couple of people are put in charge of the event