Should You Serve Alcohol at a Corporate Team Building Event?

The activity is planned, the venue is booked, and the Outlook calendar invitation has been sent out. However, one lingering question remains: do you or do you not serve alcohol to your staff at the team building event?

This is something which comes up frequently in my area, seeing how using trivia as a corporate team building activity arose from the world of pub quiz nights. However, whether you’re considering an open bar, cash bar or simply a champagne toast, it’s a legitimate question you should be asking yourself as you plan your company’s event.

While there is no clear “yes” or “no” answer, like everything else when it comes to corporate event entertainment and staff parties, your own company’s unique culture will dictate the booze/no booze question.

When making your decision on serving alcohol at the event, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Can Everybody Drink Responsibly? Assuming you know your staff and can vouch for how they’ll behave, this will hopefully be the case. However, take a look at your attendees, and make sure they can hold their drink before offering it to them.
  • Will Alcohol and the Activity Mix? It’s one thing if your group is inside doing trivia or the like, and alcohol will allow a tense staff to loosen up. However, if you’re planning to do an urban scavenger hunt, boat race, rock climb or some other outdoor physical activity, imbibed employees might not fare so well in close proximity to speeding taxis, open manholes or swiftly moving water.
  • Is Everyone of Legal Drinking Age? Are you planning to invite the interns or summer associates? Perhaps an event with an open bar might invite trouble you don’t want to have.
  • Is This a Group of Drinkers? How many of the staff regularly hit the bars on Fridays? Are there people on your team who don’t drink due to religious beliefs, or perhaps because of something more serious such as prior addiction or DUI? These are questions to ask yourself before the event, not after.
  • Have We Run Into Problems Before? Are your holiday parties notoriously raucous? Do people get carried away and act inappropriately at happy hour? Did half the staff call out sick following your last team building activity? If so, you may want to consider having your next event be dry.

The fundamental purpose of an employee entertainment activity is to get your people to bond with one another, and when used responsibly, alcohol can absolutely lube those social gears. However, take a long hard look at your group before deciding whether or not to serve them booze – you may kick (or thank) yourself later.

Alcohol, or no alcohol- what do you think?

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