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When planning team socials or incentives — especially in recruitment — it can be easy to turn to the old standards. Think pub get-togethers, boozy meals out, or team holidays to places like Vegas or Ibiza. But social events and team incentives centered around alcohol are ostracizing your employees who don’t drink.

Here’s why team socials should be inclusive, and how to plan ones that don’t revolve around getting drunk.

Why Inclusive Team Socials Are Important

First and foremost, not everyone drinks alcohol. Whether it’s for religious or health reasons, or simply because they don’t want to, around 20% of people in the UK are now teetotal. Britain’s drinking culture also has less of a hold on younger generations; nearly one in four say they don’t drink at all.

Planning team socials around alcohol can either exclude teetotal team members entirely or lead to them feeling uncomfortable or ostracized. Employees can be afraid of being seen as boring, or miss out on important team bonding events because they don’t drink.

Even those who do drink still might not want to do so in a work environment.

According to recent research by Drinkaware, 43% of working adults surveyed said they felt too much pressure to drink at work gatherings. A third of respondents said they had been pressured into drinking more than they wanted to at past team socials. Two-fifths said this was because they didn’t want to seem impolite. More than half of the workers said they’d like less pressure to drink with colleagues.

The sad fact is that this pressure to drink is a slippery slope for many people. Over 600,000 people in the UK are considered “dependent” on alcohol. Alcoholism is also the biggest risk factor for death and health issues among 15-49 year-olds in the UK, and the fifth-biggest risk factor in total. Don’t let your company fuel dangerous habits.

How to Make Sure Team Socials Work for Everyone

We’re not saying you should ban drinking from all future work gatherings. But incentives and socials need to be varied and inclusive, to make sure you’re not repeatedly leaving anyone out. There are also some important strategies you can use to make sure everyone’s comfortable at work events.

  • Provide alcohol-free options — Make sure you provide non-alcoholic drinks at social events so that employees don’t feel embarrassed to ask for them or pressured into drinking alcohol. There are loads of great alcohol-free drinks available now, while a fun mocktail menu or smoothie bar can normalise non-drinking.
  • Focus on food instead — Most people like eating! If you want a fun, bonding social event, plan around food that involves sharing or making (like a group cooking class). Providing food can also be important to help those who are drinking mitigate the effects.
  • Have a strict policy on peer pressure — Your company should have zero tolerance for shaming or pressuring colleagues into drinking. This should be made clear in your employee handbook and backed up by management at events.
  • Avoid giving alcoholic gifts — It’s tempting to gift a bottle of champagne or expensive spirits as a reward or celebration, but this might not be appropriate for everyone on your team. Unless an employee has made it clear that they’re open to such gifts, try giving something else instead. Experience days, nice chocolates, or house plants can all be just as nice to receive.

Ideas for Alcohol-Free Team Socials

Want to make your work events more inclusive? Here are some great ideas for team bonding and incentives that don’t revolve around alcohol.

  • Team games — From an old-school sports day to Office Olympics, games are a great way to get employees to bond without drinking.
  • Silent disco tour — A great alternative to a night out clubbing, lots of companies offer silent disco tours that can get your team out of a bar and onto the streets for some moving and shaking.
  • A morning rave — Alcohol-free morning raves have become so popular now that lots of companies offer corporate wellbeing packages. Whether you attend an event as a team or get a DJ right in the office, dancing and ginger shots are a great way to get everyone pumped up at the beginning of the day.
  • Escape rooms and murder mysteries — What better way to work on your team’s problem-solving skills than by giving them a mystery to decipher?

DB Charles Can Help

Looking for a new and inclusive workplace? Get in touch today to find out how we can help.