Navigating ‘Work Drinks’ When Drinking is Part of the Culture

Whether you work in the food service industry, have a keg in the office, or belong to a company where Friday night drinks seem all but mandatory, alcohol can feel inescapable as it oftentimes serves as the centerpiece of workplace and after-work activities.  According to a recent national survey of full-time employees from all industries, close to half of workers (46 percent) say their coworkers go to happy hour or other events where alcohol is involved. What’s more, one out of every ten employees say these events are happening ‘very often.’ If you’re looking to moderate your drinking, how can you pursue your goals while still feeling like a “team player” and socializing with your coworkers? For those of you wishing you could make a change, the challenge is very real.

Here are five ways to successfully moderate your drinking with co-workers who love a tipple, or two...

1. Set hard limits. Rather than just aiming to “cut back” or “take it easy” at an office get-together, always decide before the event exactly how many drinks you will have. 1 in 4 employees report they’ve seen a coworker drink too much at a work event. How many drinks are you comfortable with in a professional setting? Commit to your limit by writing it down or telling your Annum coach.

2. Avoid refills. To pay attention to how much you’re drinking, don’t let co-workers or wait staff top off your drink before you’re done. It’s all too easy to lose count of how much you’re drinking: what feels like a few innocent top-offs can easily be multiple standard drinks. Rehearse how to plan to say “no” when someone offers you that next drink.

3. Alternate water and alcohol. If you’re only having a few drinks and the event tends to go on for a while, pace yourself. Alternate your drinks with seltzer or soda. Carry an empty beer bottle or ask your bartender to serve you water with lemon in a cocktail glass so you aren’t empty handed.

4.  Eat healthfully beforehand. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach and remember to always eat before the event. Snack on something filling, even if it’s just a sandwich you picked up on your lunch break. By going in with a full stomach, the alcohol will affect you less, thus decreasing its ability to weaken your resolve.

5.  Get in and get out early. If the night tends to unwind the longer it goes on, show up on time, and get out early. The more tired you are, the harder it will be to stay focused on your goal. Conveniently, if everyone’s been drinking, they won’t notice your carefully executed Irish Goodbye…

To learn more about drinking in the workplace, have a look at the report from our national survey of full-time employees.