How to Throw an Office Happy Hour — That Your Employees Will Actually Want to Come to
As companies everywhere come to realize the vital importance of office culture, it’s becoming standard to hold regular weekly happy hours at the workplace. And while yes, in-office drinks are a fantastic way to bring atmosphere and build a cool work environment, it’s not enough to just put some beers on the conference room table and call it party — no, it needs to be done with planning and purpose… Nobody wants to stand around making small talk while holding a beer, or even worse is doing that with the attitude of “ok let’s have fun now.” That is a recipe for a very boring 40 minutes of people trying not to think about the unfinished work they left at their desks.
Sometimes fun doesn’t happen spontaneously… Sometimes, it requires great design. You need to do the right amount of planning, and lay the right groundwork for a really good time that will keep people coming back for more. Give the vibe that your employees work at an awesome company, and not another soulless Office Space “Initech.” You invest so much in your employees already, the magic happens when you let it show.
So how do we fix a broken happy hour?
While providing good snacks and ample drinks is essential, this alone is not sufficient to create a buzzing workplace tradition that everyone will love. So in addition to refreshments of the adult variety, here are some basic principals to create the perfect conditions for success:
1. Timing is key
No matter how great of an event you plan, if you schedule it the day before a huge deadline, or too early or too late in the day, people won’t be enthusiastic. Just be mindful of people’s work patterns and other external factors like rush hour traffic.
2. Have a vision
You want to cultivate over time a ritual that people will really look forward to attending, because company-mandated fun is the actual opposite of real fun. To start down the road of real fun, it’s important to have a clear purpose in mind. Ask yourself, what will be the ultimate goal of this time together? Good times and games? A place to grow strong as a team? To learn something new? To get to know each other personally? All of the above? Once you have a specific intent for the occasion, you can structure your activities accordingly. This brings us to the next principal for success:
3. Introduce some structure
Having a plan of action to carry the group will go a long way towards achieving your goal. A good way to do this is to invent a tradition that fits the vibe of your vision. Some examples of this might be “birthdays this month” with cake and sparklers, or a dramatic reading of “this week’s best quotes heard around the office” to get people in the mood. Look to the goals you set before, and choose a tradition that will take you in that direction. You can experiment with different activities until you find one that works, but most importantly, be responsive to feedback about what people enjoyed, and what they didn’t.
4. Activities that will bring people together. This is where stuff gets good.
The best way to create a community comes down to two words: shared experiences. Shared experiences are the mortar that unite people of any age, background, or personality. Experiencing something exciting or strange or beautiful together creates conversations, jokes and camaraderie that goes far beyond the borders of the event itself.
So bring a comedian who will give a show tailored to your company, do an Art-With-Jello class (yes that’s a thing), or book a professional magician who will not only capture the imagination, but also teach how to apply the principles of illusion and focus to your everyday life. Give people a shared experience that will shape them together in a way that will last long after the party is over. So whether your goal is team-building, fun, or learning, just remember: have a vision, create shared experiences, and of course… Plenty of drinks! We’ll cheers to that.
For more great opportunities to make your company culture better, pop by Speakizi and find the best experience for your event.