09/27/2017 Molly Moseley

Fireball Fridays: boost to employee morale or a way to get burned?

It’s Friday afternoon and your boss comes over to you and hands you a cocktail. What 10 years ago might have been unheard of is now not only acceptable, but commonplace at businesses across the country.

Drinking at work has evolved through the decades. The show Mad Men may be fictional, but it definitely provides a peek into the workplace drinking culture of the ’60s, where booze and deals went hand in hand. Move into the ’70s and there was a shift that made drinking on the job more culturally taboo. By the mid ’80s and into the ’90s, it was rare to share a cocktail with a colleague while still on the clock.

Today things have changed once again. There’s been a shift back to acceptable workplace drinking. While you might not be having three-martini lunches, you’ll happily grab a cold brew on a particularly tough afternoon or join your colleagues for the weekly onsite happy hour.

Of course policies on drinking in the office vary greatly by company. Some have strict rules against it, while others almost promote it. For example, at Yelp’s headquarters in San Francisco, you can get a tap beer from the kegbot, an intelligent machine that allows employees to sign in and receive an icy cold brew. Many other companies have bars built into break rooms and host frequent onsite happy hours.

The workplace resurgence of foaming mugs and cocktails brimming with libations has many pros and cons. For starters, offering these types of perks can be a great recruitment and retainment tool. Camaraderie can blossom and it can become a positive part of the company culture. Some argue it’s even a way to get people to think creatively and be more innovative. It’s certainly an outside-the-box benefit that many people appreciate; the problem is, it might not be appreciated by all people.

If a company decides to implement workplace drinking policies, it’s important to keep all employees in mind. What about employees who don’t drink due to religious beliefs? What about those in recovery? What about people who simply choose not to drink? You want an inclusive workplace, so you must find ways to make all people comfortable with the options so everyone can feel good about where they work. The last thing you want is someone to feel pressured to participate, tempted to relapse or left out due to their personal choices.

It’s also wise to set some guidelines. Most employees will be responsible while drinking, but providing clear expectations keeps employees safe while limiting liabilities. I’m guessing the Yelp kegbot cuts people off after so many requests in a certain period of time. If you set up a fridge with booze, you may have to monitor things yourself. Everyone is an adult, but that doesn’t mean overindulging can’t happen.

Here at LinkUp we don’t have a bar, but we do occasionally enjoy beer on Fridays, or have shot of fireball to celebrate a project well done. Naturally, everyone drinks in moderation and we have lots of fun. What’s your take? Do you like the movement toward workplace drinking or wish it remained conservative?