Businesses Encouraged to Implement Inclusive and Safe Social Events
by Christine Humphreys
Published: May 09, 2023 Last updated: August 12, 2023
Companies are being encouraged to rethink their approach to workplace social events to help prevent unwanted behaviour and harassment. The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) believes that businesses should look into adopting strategies that reduce the risks tied to alcohol consumption during these events.
A CMI poll that surveyed over 1,000 managers found that 29% of them had seen inappropriate behaviour and harassment at work parties. Women are more likely than men to report such incidents. This information underlines the need for businesses to reexamine their social event policies to create a safe and inclusive environment for all employees.
To address this issue, CMI suggests that companies think about planning events focused on activities that don’t involve alcohol. The poll showed that 42% of respondents liked this idea, especially younger folks aged 16-34. Other ways to maintain a safe atmosphere at work events might include offering engaging activities alongside alcohol, limiting drinks per person, or taking steps to stop those who drink too much from acting inappropriately.
CMI’s CEO, Ann Francke, stressed that while hanging out with coworkers can be great for team-building, it’s important for managers to keep employee safety in mind and ensure proper behaviour. By putting these strategies into action, companies can create a welcoming and respectful environment at their social events, making sure all employees feel comfortable and safe.
How to Cope with a Boozy Workplace When You’re Not Drinking
Navigating social events and work gatherings can be challenging when you’re abstaining from alcohol, especially in a workplace culture that encourages drinking.
Here are some strategies to help you feel more comfortable and maintain your professional relationships while avoiding booze:
Communicate your preferences: It’s essential to be open and honest with your colleagues about your decision to abstain from alcohol. You don’t need to provide an explanation, but letting others know your preference can prevent any awkward situations or assumptions.
Have a go-to non-alcoholic drink: Keep a non-alcoholic drink in hand during events to minimise questions about why you’re not drinking. This could be a soda, sparkling water, or even a mocktail. Having a drink in your hand can also help you feel more at ease in social situations.
Suggest alternative activities: Be proactive in proposing social activities that don’t revolve around alcohol. This could include team-building exercises, game nights, or outdoor adventures. Encourage your colleagues to participate in these events, fostering an inclusive environment that values everyone’s preferences.
Find like-minded colleagues: Connect with co-workers who share your decision to avoid alcohol or those who have similar interests. Building a support network can make it easier to navigate social events and provide a sense of camaraderie.
Focus on networking: Use workplace social events as an opportunity to network and build professional relationships. Engage in conversations and actively listen to your colleagues, showcasing your interest in their ideas and experiences. Focusing on networking can help shift the attention away from your choice not to drink.
Set boundaries: Establish personal boundaries and be prepared to assert yourself if necessary. If you feel pressured to drink or are made uncomfortable by others’ behaviour, remember that it is okay to excuse yourself from the situation or politely decline any unwanted offers.
Speak with management: If your workplace’s boozy culture is negatively impacting your work environment, consider discussing the issue with your manager or HR department. Express your concerns and suggest alternative social event ideas that promote inclusivity and cater to different preferences.
By employing these strategies, you can maintain your personal well-being and uphold professional relationships, all while avoiding alcohol in a boozy workplace.
About The Author
Chris Humphreys is the co-founder of The Alcohol-Free Shop and AlcoholFree.com. She was a journalist for more years than she cares to remember. Ex-wife of an alcoholic, enthusiastic amateur musician and a passionate dog lover.