How to deal with a drinking culture in a corporate environment

How to deal with a drinking culture in a corporate environment


A recent study of various professions reveals 86 per cent feel under pressure to drink with those they work with.

A Company’s Brand image and workplace culture is incredibly important as it reflects the identity of the company and affects all employees who work there. But it is also a complex system, shaped by the individuals, processes, systems and customers of the company.

Company culture is one of the main motivators for performance in a company. A culture that accepts and encourages alcohol use without setting up procedures to deal with the resulting issues and fostering awareness among senior managers, can lead to serious problems. Repeated alcohol use during office hours will, for some, lead to addiction. Now think about all the employees that come to work hungover, or staff that are required to entertain clients at lunch time or late into the evening – what decisions are they making, probably not the best ones. We have all heard of managers encouraging their staff to get their customers or other staff members pi%%ed to build better relationships – Madness.


Culture and peer pressure
Peer pressure is the way individuals or groups influence the behaviour and attitudes of others. It can be positive or negative. Organisational culture and peer pressure are directly linked. That is not to say that the 'official' culture of a company is affected by peer pressure, but certainly the 'informal' culture of the company is.

For example a company might state in their official guidelines that employees must not work longer than a certain amount of hours each week. However the culture of that company could still be one where, due to peer pressure, employees regularly work late into the night.

The average Brit thinks about giving up alcohol 25 times a year, but only half have tried to quit, the poll of 2,000 found.

Four in 10 have felt they were out of control in relation to their drinking.

We naturally conform to fit in with those around us. If there is peer pressure to act in a certain way, coming from a manager, this will filter down and affect the people working within the company, until most people are acting the same way. For example, if a manager embraces daytime drinking in their department, or encourages boozy nights out with customers, employees will feel obliged to go along with it.

This behaviour could become a part of that department's culture, and inevitably performance or behaviour will start to decline, probably very slowly at first, but over a longer period of time individual’s work performance will drop, their interactions slow, plus maybe a shorter attention span in meetings and key decisions.

You may be a high Performa at work, or have your drinking under control, but how many mornings have you woken up with a hangover, and gone to work ! Its an old fashion mindset to think your must drink alcohol to get on with your colleagues after work, or to build relationships with customers - drinking loads, then talking about it all the next day at someone’s expense is not positive, or very good for your health – consider making friends over a meal, bowling or sports without alcohol– if you think you need alcohol to help you talk to collegues or friends your wrong, in truth its much much easier without - everything just takes a little pratise.

Do we bring our problems to work or work problems home ?

Even if a company is successful in terms of profits, a negative culture can result in staff dissatisfaction, absenteeism, high staff turnover and ultimately damage the reputation of the company as a place to work, all can be affected by staff being stressed or drinking at home.


Recent Study
Doctors are the professionals who feel the most pressure to booze with workmates.
Researchers carried out nationwide polling to assess drinking cultures in the workplace.

They found 86% of doctors feel pressure to drink with colleagues, followed by railway workers at 82% and IT workers at 81%.
A third of workers said it would be a disadvantage at work if they didn’t drink, according to the poll.
It found 47% say they feel pressure to keep up with work boozing and 32% said there is a “culture of excessive drinking” in their workplace.


Positive culture
It is important for employers and managers to recognise the culture within their company and ensure that it is a positive, motivational culture, that makes the working environment a good and productive place to work. Managers and senior managers need to be supervised and appraised and staff feedback needs to be listened to. A dedicated alcohol policy needs to be in place and managers must show that they understand its significance to the performance of the company.


Our Top Tips To Not Drinking At Work Events

Practice What You’ll Say:
It can be as simple as saying “I don’t drink” or politely declining their offer, pick this strategy when meeting with business contacts: When someone offer you any drink especially an alcoholic drink— “Smile and thank them, and thank them sincerely,” as Drinks are expensive, and understand the person is making a nice gesture in their mind and that’s worth acknowledging, then just ask for an alternative drink from them – Not thanks I don’t drink beer could I have a …….

In short, you don’t owe people anything—so don’t be afraid to turn a drink from them away. “People that are really in your face about it aren’t respectful of you and your choices.

Have an Alternative Plan in Place
Sometimes, it may not make sense to explain yourself—or, it does but the explanation still isn’t convincing the person to leave you alone.

Find Activities and Places That Don’t Require Drinking
Take advantage of those moments during the day when drinking is definitely not involved to get to know your co-workers in a more comfortable setting

Outside the office, there are plenty of other options for team bonding. When attending conferences, I strongly encourages colleagues to go and do something fun like go-karting or something that takes us out of that bar environment.


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