You receive a calendar invitation to an office happy hour and are told that attendance is optional. Perhaps it’s during your typical nine-to-five grind in a conference room or after hours at a local hotspot. You think “do I have to go?” and conjure up every excuse not to attend. Because what really is the point of this get-together?
Happy hours are a chance to get to know your coworkers a little better all while having fun. Sound so bad? Think internal or off-site gatherings for special milestones (birthdays, anniversaries, promotions), holiday celebrations (national holidays or social media holidays, like “National Ice Cream Day”), lunch-and-learns and professional development sessions or even volunteering at a local charity! And if drinks aren’t your forte, no problem, happy hours aren’t required to revolve around alcohol. They come in many shapes and sizes – the possibilities are endless!
If you’ve never stopped to think about the benefits of an office happy hour, allow me to share some compelling reasons why you should RSVP “yes” to the next invitation you receive.
Relax and Unwind
We are all guilty of not taking enough breaks – or any at all. We constantly ignore signals from our body to rest and recharge and override them with shots of espresso and sugary treats. It’s important to understand, however, that our brains are not wired to concentrate for eight or more hours. Like our bodies, our brains need a breather, too. Step away from your desk and mingle with your coworkers for some well-deserved R&R. Everyone can use a “drop-what-you’re-doing” happy hour.
Boost Productivity and Creativity
There’s a reason why the words “happy” and “hour” appear side by side. They are organized efforts to make you happy! Research shows that there’s a direct link between employee happiness and overall productivity and creativity. In fact, one study shows that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than their unhappy counterparts. Surprised? I’m certainly not.
And if there’s no scheduled happy hour on the calendar, leave the office and join your coworkers for a walking tour of your company’s neighborhood (we love to explore the historic Charlestown Navy Yard!), grab a bite at a local eatery or replenish your mental resources with some mindful meditation. A slight change of pace and scenery from your daily routine will stimulate your mind, inevitably leading to a burst of creativity and a surge of ‘aha’ moments!
Team Bonding and Relationship Building
When you’re only focused on your job, it can be hard to connect with your coworkers beyond a professional level. This doesn’t mean you have to be best friends, but it’s nice to know more about each other beyond a job title. If you notice that your conversations revolve solely on upcoming client deadlines and to-do lists, it may be the perfect time for a happy hour. Plan or suggest activities that create more engaging relationships.
Network – Network – Network
If you’re still wondering what the company down the hall does or think a nearby organization could be a great partner for your business, invite them to your office or plan an off-site happy hour to get to know each other. You never know where your next client could come from! Or maybe you work for a large company where you rarely interact with colleagues outside of your department. Informal gatherings provide the opportunity to learn about other roles within the organization. Networking can be a daunting activity, but once you’re in a more relaxed setting – possibly with a cocktail in your hand – it’s much easier to connect in a fun, yet productive, environment.
Celebrate Passions and Side Hustles
Is someone on your team in a band? Are they developing the next trending app? It’s important to appreciate that your employees or colleagues have a life beyond the office walls, so plan a group outing to see them in action. This is the perfect way to bond over shared passions and find out more about your cube neighbor.
What do you think? Are you starting to plan your next office happy hour in your head right now? Not only will internal events help your company by increasing employee retention and employee satisfaction, but they will motivate everyone to work harder and build lasting relationships!