Pros and Cons of Alcohol at Company Functions

To serve or not to serve? Pros and cons of serving alcoholic beverages at company functions.

’Tis nearly the season for all things festive, with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up soon, which means company holiday gatherings are right around the corner. Whether your company is large or small, these annual events are a great way to bring a team of employees together for conversation, fun, celebration and getting into the holiday spirit.

Everyone wants to be able to have a relaxing, fun time with coworkers and to celebrate a job well done after a busy year, but it’s paramount to ensure the safety of all employees first and foremost. This makes the holiday season the perfect opportunity to consider whether or not to allow alcoholic beverages at company events. We’ve compiled a few pros and cons to help you weigh the decision and choose the best option for your team.

Pros

Morale Booster
Some employees may prefer to have a beverage in hand at company functions because it helps them to loosen up around people they are less familiar with, while others may not have a preference. Ultimately, the focus of a company event is to bring everyone together in a different environment to enjoy each other and build camaraderie. If offering the option of enjoying an alcoholic beverage while doing so would be a perk that employees would appreciate, consider including alcohol at your event.

Merrymaking
Depending on the setting, spending time with people from work for company events can sometimes feel like more work to employees. It is common for adult functions to include the option of alcohol, and a company-sponsored event doesn’t have to be any different so long as those in attendance enjoy it responsibly.

Fellowship
Sometimes spirits can actually build your team spirit. Increased camaraderie is often a result when coworkers are allowed to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with those they see nearly every day, because it can lead to reduced stress and new interactions that may strengthen a working relationship.

Cons

Liabilities
The most important factor to consider with any company-sponsored event that includes alcohol is the safety and well-being of everyone present. Will everyone be able to get home safely? If an employee is involved in an accident and claims they were over-served, the company could be liable for any damages.

Conduct
With alcohol comes lowered inhibitions, which can be positive when you want to have a relaxed event where employees feel comfortable, but this can quickly become an issue if too much alcohol is involved. Every workplace should have a harassment-free environment, whether at the office, job site, or company event.

Representation
Consider the representation of the company as a whole. Will embarrassing photos make their way to the surface? Will the professionalism of the organization and its employees be at risk? If so, it may be best to opt out of serving alcohol.

Options to Consider

Hold employees accountable for their actions, and discuss with them beforehand that excessive drinking at company events is unacceptable.

Opt for a cash bar or limited drink ticket system to help keep overindulgence to a minimum and act as a method of tracking alcohol consumption.

Always serve food from the beginning of the event, to avoid employees drinking on empty stomachs.

Pay for cabs
to sit outside the party in the event that someone cannot safely drive themselves home.

These pros, cons, and alternative options offer jumping-off points to consider, but there are no definite ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to what is the best course of action for your individual business. While alcohol can be a festive addition to your event, the safety of all employees is the number one priority. With some proactive planning and discussion as a team, the company holiday party can be a safe, joyous time for all and an annual event everyone looks forward to.