Some of you are going to happy hour tonight.
We know, because we asked PR Daily readers on Facebook
, and some said they plan to knock back a few with their co-workers to kick off the weekend.
Others, however, said no way—not today, not ever. “Oh, no,” said one of PR Daily’s Facebook fans. “Much too dangerous on so many levels.”
To happy hour or not to happy hour, that is the question.
“It can be a slippery slope that I think is better dictated by office culture,” said Aaron Perlut, a partner at St. Louis-based agency Elasticity. “If it's a conservative culture, greater care should be taken. However, if you have a more creative, laid-back culture, the typical happy hour and the typical loose-lipped imbibing that accompanies it might be acceptable.”
He said the employees at his firm often grab drinks together, because it fits with the tenor of their creative culture.
Plus, as Perlut and others explained, happy hour can help boost employee morale.
“Happy hours are generally a great thing for employee morale and for getting to know your co-workers outside of the office,” said Beth Monaghan, principal at Boston-based PR firm Inkhouse.
InkHouse hosts what it calls FOFs—or forced office fun—every other Thursday to help facilitate those relationships.
Similarly, the Chicago office of ad agency Cramer-Krasselt throws casual happy hours for employees moving into new jobs. Groups of friends or departments at the firm also get together on occasion for a drink after work.
“Having a casual drink with co-workers helps reinforce the friendly vibe we all hope to establish in the workplace and people will often feel more at ease to chat when they aren't in their offices,” said Becky Johns, an account executive of agency communications at Cramer-Krasselt.
Not only is happy hour an opportunity for the rank and file to mingle, but also for the boss to show his or her personable side.
“I do attend some happy hour events with our staff,” said Abbi Whitaker, owner of The Abbi Agency in Reno. “I want my employees to see me as human.”
She said the agency hosts a monthly office happy hour, taking everyone out and picking up the tab.
“But as the owner of the company, it's always important that you keep the drinking to a minimum and never set a bad example,” Whitaker added.
To that end, here are five tips for making sure you enjoy happy hour responsibly—whether you just started or you own the company.
After a little alcohol, you might let down your guard and steer the conversation to a negative place. Toasting a job well done can quickly become ranting about a co-worker or manager. When the conversation turns to gossip, it’s best to excuse yourself—or ask for the check and call it a day.
“It's not a good idea to make happy hour into a place to vent about everything you hate about the workplace,” said Kevin Allen, a social media marketer and PR Daily contributor.
Watch what you say.
Even worse than gossip are threatening remarks. It might sound ridiculous, but Brad Phillips recalls an awkward experience during a work happy hour 10 years ago.
“Before I started my company, one of my then-colleagues got belligerently drunk at a work happy hour and started making physical threats without provocation,” said Phillips, who is president of Phillips Media Relations.
A decade later, the threatening language is still working against the boozed-up bully.
“He recently asked me to join his LinkedIn network,” Phillips said. “I still remember that night and don't have even a remote interest in having anything to do with him."
Behave like an intimidating jackass, and people will
Stick to beer and wine—or consider a non-alcoholic beverage.
Hard alcohol can get the best of you, and fast. For that reason, it’s probably best to avoid mixed drinks, whisky neat, or tequila shots.
Even if you don’t drink, you can still hang out with co-workers imbibing at the office or in a bar. A commenter on Facebook’s PR Daily page said he attends work happy hours, but avoids alcohol, sticking instead with coffee.
Keep it to two drinks.
You may opt for wine or beer, but that doesn’t mean you should polish off a six-pack or a whole bottle of pinot. Everyone asked about happy hour urged moderation.
“You do more damage than good to those relationships if you show poor judgment and drink too much,” said Monighan. “Your boss wants to see an employee who can have fun, show your personality, and demonstrate good judgment, not be the one who shuts the bar down dancing on the table.”
Whitaker advised having no more than two drinks. Johns echoed that advice, adding, “You never want to be known as your office party animal.”
Remember, it’s called happy hour for a reason.
Don’t linger, because you might end up ordering drink No. 3—which almost inevitably turns into drink No. 4 and so on. As Whitaker suggested, avoid going to the next bar. You don’t want to be the talk of the office come Monday because you closed down the bar by climbing atop it to perform the definitive Macarena.
“It's better to hear of any borderline behavior the next day, than to be the one making the office headlines,” said Nate Formalarie, communications manager at Vermont Hard Cider Co.
Or as Johns put it, “keep it classy.”