Company happy hours are a tool for creating opportunities to bond teams, promote networking and boost the morale of your employees. They give employees a chance to get to know each other and forge connections in a way that the 9-5 doesn’t allow for. They can work for big and small companies, and are adjustable to all budgets.They can (and should) be inclusive to all types of employees, and provide an opportunity to explore the area around you. Here are some of the best tips, tricks and general happy hour ideas for work to get you going.
Keeping Happy Hours Affordable
Hand Over The Reigns To Different Teams
A great way to keep monthly happy hours interesting and lighten the load of the office manager is to set a budget and rotate which team plans the happy hour. The accounting team might hire a bartender to come to the office while Engineering might find a great happy hour deal on margaritas around the corner. Switching up who plans it ensures that a diverse range of tastes will be catered to. In the same vein, it encourages participation and makes the event more inclusive. While it can be intimidating for someone new to join a group of happy hour regulars, most people will attend the happy hour they plan, adding new faces to the mix.
Look for Sponsorship
A great way to keep costs low (read: free) is to reach out to food and beverage brands that might be interested in sponsoring you. Find out which brands have just rolled out a new flavour or new line of ciders, they might just throw you a couple of bottles free as a part of their marketing efforts.
Have Executives Take Shifts As Bartenders
If you’re looking to keep the affair inexpensive and in-house, it makes the most sense to have someone on staff man the bar. Calling on management to mix up their favorite drinks helps everyone see more of their boss’s humanity and relax outside the confines of the normal hierarchy.
Themes for Company Happy Hours
Take Advantage Of Your Rooftop
If your building has roof access, take advantage of that space! All you need is a few chairs, picnic blankets and some light refreshments. The view is the main draw.
Happy Hour Potluck: Everyone Bring Your Favorite Drink
Let everyone show a different side of their personality by bringing in their favorite drink or snack. Whether that’s an old fashioned, homemade sweet tea or a cheese board, you’re bound to learn something about your coworkers.
Giving people something to do with their hands is one of the best ways to ease the transition from strictly professional communication to hanging out. Plus, many bowling alleys provide upscale amenities nowadays that make playing the game feel like hanging out in a nice bar anyway.
So this might not be for every office, but Karaoke can provide a surprising amount of fun, and take the focus off the alcohol. Don’t knock it ‘till you try it.
Hire A Comedian
What better way to blow off steam than laughing together? You can hire a comedian to come to the office or head to a comedy show together.
Remote Happy Hour
Don’t forget your remote employees! There’s no reason remote teams can’t bond over a drink of their choice with all of the technology that exists these days. Just try and schedule this type of happy hour during work hours. No one really wants to spend an extra hour video calling their boss over a beer.
Intern Happy Hour
One of the few things that can make free internships tolerable is the people you do it with. Give your interns an opportunity to connect, network, and form potentially lifelong bonds by encouraging them to head to happy hour together. Just keep in mind that some may be under 21, and choose what places or activities you suggest accordingly. We know of a company where the supervisors once took all the interns to a baseball game!
Ice Cream Party
Who said you need alcohol to have fun? From building your own sundaes or ice cream sandwiches to simply heading down the street to the ice cream truck, and ice cream happy hour will make everyone smile.
Whether everyone brings a bottle to try or you head to a local vineyard, wine tasting is a fun and classy happy hour option. It’s also a great option because tasting won’t let anyone get too drunk.
Another fun and inexpensive option is to hire a food truck! It’s great for companies of all sizes and budgets because you can choose whether you cover the cost of food or leave that to employees. Think a taco truck with margaritas and Mexican soda, or an ice cream truck with wine and beer. There’s something for everyone!
Take advantage of warmer weather and plan a summer happy hour outdoors. If your office has rooftop access or a nearby courtyard, you can hire an instructor to come. Otherwise look for free outdoor yoga in your area (it happens all the time all over NYC) or look for group discounts.
Community Service Happy Hour
Giving back to the community is better when done together. This option can help employees really connect on a deeper level as it inspires conversations about what they’re truly passionate about. And if nothing else, it will make everyone feel good.
Provide Plenty Of Non-Alcoholic Options
Whether it’s for religious or health reasons, or they just don’t like the taste, some people in the office are bound to be non-drinkers. Don’t make alcohol a prerequisite for attending a company happy hour. Always provide plenty of nonalcoholic drinks (including something other than water) as well as some snacks. If you choose an alcohol-focused activity like wine tasting, make sure there are some interesting food options to shift the focus from exclusively alcohol. And whatever you do, don’t ask why someone isn’t drinking. Nothing ruins a networking event like making someone admit to an unannounced pregnancy or struggle with alcoholism.
Provide Some Activities (a panel, card games or board games, go-karts)
To get the conversation flowing and keep everyone at ease, provide something for them to do. It could be inviting a fun speaker in, or just leaving some board games out. Giving people at least one structured or suggested activity help initiate the interactions.