To drink or not to drink at work related events is a question almost every employee has to ponder for one occasion or another. Whether the business occasion is lunch during an interview, the company holiday party, or a staff networking event on Friday afternoon, alcohol is usually an option. Make your decision about what to drink and how much to drink before you are faced with the choices at an event. Set your limit before the event. In a recent survey by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), 501 Human Resources professionals were asked how drinking is viewed in their organization at a range of work-related activities. HR professionals reported that drinking is acceptable:
70 percent: at a holiday party,
40 percent: at a meal with a client or customer,
32 percent: at a retirement party,
28 percent: at the celebration of a company milestone,
22 percent: at a meal with a coworker,
4 percent: at a meal during a job interview, and
14 percent: never.
The Alcohol Decision
Take these factors into consideration when you make your decision about drinking at a company event or activity.
Take your first cue from your company culture and the behavior of your coworkers. Do successful employees, managers, and executives drink at company events? If so, having a couple of drinks is fine. At a client company, the weekly happy hour on Friday is deliberately called "2Beer Friday” to send an important message that drinking too much is unacceptable with coworkers and while driving.
Take your second cue from your knowledge of yourself and the affect of alcohol on your actions. Does one drink make you giggly? Do two drinks make you slur your words or lower your guard and chatter excessively? If so, you may not want to drink at company events.
If you are uncomfortable attending the event, for any reason, you will not want to use alcohol to decrease your anxiety.
As an individual, consider the affects of drinking too much on your relationships with your coworkers, your professional reputation, your manager’s ongoing regard, the office gossip mill, and your own view of yourself. Set your limit; stick with the limit you set. Don’t risk your professional reputation for a third or fourth drink at a company event.