By: Emily Hogan
A happy hour with no lines, no reserved tables, no seven dollar wells, and no bumping into that weird guy hogging the bar stool. Sign me up!
If you’ve ever spent the afternoon in a D.C. office, you know it is 5PM when everyone starts checking their phones and brainstorming happy hour locations. Walking to the metro stop is like a game of Frogger—dodging sidewalk signs advertising happy hour specials, and groups crowding around high top tables. Why not capitalize on the omnipresent happy hour culture and encourage your coworkers to kick back at work and get to know each other? I guarantee there will be no crowds and—hopefully—no weird guys on bar stools. Still need convincing? Studies show making friends at work leads to more employee collaboration and higher productivity. In fact, Forbes recently published an article showing the connection between fun workplaces and happy, more productive employees.
Before joining Zerocater six months ago, I worked as an event planner. Happy hours were my bread and butter. In my experience, alcohol can have more than one kind of effect on people. While I do have some crazy stories (i.e. the time a senior executive was found asleep under his desk after too many sake bombs) I also have great stories about coworkers hatching a plan to carpool, employees discovering they have the same alma mater, and business leaders having an “ah ha!” moment after learning more about their employees. Take it from a former event planner; happy hours are a great way to break the ice. Here are three tips to getting your employees out of their cubes and into the five o’clock spirit:
- Choose your day wisely.
Is your office mainly composed of recent college grads, or parents who have to help their kids with homework once they wrap things up at the office? Knowing which day of the week works for your groups is key in throwing a successful and well-attended happy hour. It also doesn’t hurt to check the events calendar for your city so you can avoid double-booking the same night as the big game.
- Themes are your friend.
No, no, no, I am not talking about making your coworkers dress up in grass skirts and sip tiki drinks. Start with something simple: local beer night, or a tailgate happy hour to kick off football season. The possibilities are endless and can help create excitement around the office. Different themes work for different people, so keep it creative and don’t be afraid to mix it up. Still need ideas? Don’t be afraid to poll the audience for suggestions!
- Get everyone involved.
What’s the point of getting everyone together if employees only talk to their teammates? Focus on fostering cross-departmental conversations: Rotate bartending duties across different departments, play a game of office trivia, or host a raffle and give away a mystery gift.
Happy hour should be about celebrating the work you accomplished together, rather than celebrating that the day is over.
Emily Hogan is the Client Success Manager in Zerocater’s Washington, D.C. office.