With the Christmas period approaching, there will undoubtedly be Office Parties! Whilst I am certainly no “humbug”, as a teetotaller, I sometimes dread having to attend “booze-fuelled” networking events, and let’s face it, I won’t be the only one! In 2019, more and more people are choosing not to drink, whether this be for religious reasons, taking positive steps to improve mental wellbeing or simply because they don’t enjoy it.
This blog is to get you to think about Inclusive Networking within your organisation, not only to cater cater for a more diverse workforce, but to protect your employees from some of the more harmful effects of alcohol, such as lower mood, physical hangovers and embarrassment. Alcohol lowers people’s inhibitions and can cause people to behave “out of character”, doing or saying things they don’t mean. Being an employment lawyer, I can also say with authority that incidents of sexual harassment are much likely to occur on a work’s night out!
Here are some top tips to ensure everyone can have a safe and enjoyable night out in your organisation:
1. Consider alternative activities other than your traditional meal and drinks;
At Thrive, we offer a range of activities to cater for a diverse workforce, including exercise classes and spa treatments. Networking and team building are much better achieved whilst participating in a fun-activity. Get creative!
2. If you are holding a drinks event, make sure that non-drinkers have a proper, adult drink available to them;
There is nothing worse than attending a drinks’ event where the only drinks available are lukewarm orange juice and water. First, it’s not breakfast. Second, orange juice is full of sugar and thirdly, water is just not exciting enough! Make sure that there are exciting, alternatives or 0% options available to make non-drinkers feel included. You will find that most people actually want to limit their alcohol intake, but if there is no viable alternative available, they are more likely to reach for the prosecco and beer.
There are a range of non-alcoholic alternatives hitting our bars and super-markets, so there really is no excuse.
3. Limit the number of alcoholic drinks available;
If you are paying for the event, provide employees with a sensible number of drink’s vouchers/coupons for alcoholic drinks in advance of the event rather than having a “free for all”.
Consider not placing a limit on non-alcoholic drinks vouchers.
Here are some top tips if you are attending a “drinks event” and choosing not to drink alcohol:
1. Be assertive about your choice not to drink. You don’t have to justify your reasons for not drinking, but as any teetotaller will know, people like to probe you for being different. If you are not confident, come prepared with an excuse, such as “I am driving” (this seems to be the acceptable reason not to drink);
2. Know your exits. Plan in advance how you are getting home;
3. Don’t offer to be a taxi service. You might not want to stay until the end of the night.
Whist relevant to the Christmas period, inclusive networking should be all-year round. At Thrive Law we can review your policies and procedures to ensure diverse members of staff are taken care of and included. We can also offer practical support as to how to change your organisation from the top-down to encourage wellbeing in the workplace. Get in touch today.
Written by Imogen Hamblin