The No. 1 Reason You SHOULD Always Drink at Office Parties

My dear friend Tim Sackett believes that it’s risky to drink at office functions.

You might say something stupid. You might look foolish. You might put your job on the line. And those are all true if you’re a functional idiot. If you can’t cross the street without holding your mama’s hand, you shouldn’t have a drink at office parties.

If you are like the rest of the world, though, having a drink or two at an office party isn’t a big deal. If anything, it can be a lifesaver.

Why drinking at parties may help your job

Here are some reasons why drinking can help your job.

  1. When you have a drink, you look like a team player. We like to work with people who share common values, common beliefs, and common preferences. A beer is a simple way to show your colleagues that you enjoy their company and that you’re part of the team.
  2. Drinking enforces trust. When you have a glass of wine in your hand, you are forging a simple bond with fellow employees: you trust them not to rat you out if you have one too many. The other side of the coin? You have to uphold that promise and ‘have their backs’ if they can’t hold their liquor.
  3. Drinking displays confidence in your judgment. You know who drinks too much and worries about it? Sorority girls named Katie. “Oh my god, do you think Jacob noticed how drunk I was?” Yes, he noticed. That vomit on your shirt was a telltale sign. Show a little maturity and have a sip of wine without looking like an immature schoolgirl.

Grown-ups should be able to handle a cocktail or two

There’s one more reason to drink at work-related events: because it makes the whole thing more tolerable.

White Elephant holiday gift exchanges? Office baby showers? Award ceremonies? Please, put a bullet in me.

I’m not advocating for full-blown alcoholism, but mature adults are hired for their critical thinking skills, their ability to accomplish tasks, and because they can get the job done. Grown-ups can appreciate a lovely cocktail without barfing on the boss.

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That’s the fun of being an adult.

And if you do barf on the boss, I have one piece of advice for you: lie through your teeth and say it was food poisoning.

Not that I’ve ever done that. Nope. Not at all.

This was originally published on Laurie Ruettimann’s The Cynical Girl blog.


Laurie Ruettimann (LFR) is a former Human Resources leader turned influential speaker, writer and strategist. She owns a human resources consultancy that offers a wide array of HR services to human resources leaders and executives. Check out her LinkedIn profile here. You may know Ruettimann as the creator of The Cynical Girl and Punk Rock HR (retired), which Forbes named as a top 100 website for women. You may have also read her book, I AM HR: 5 Strategic Ways to Break Stereotypes and Reclaim HR. (RepCap Press, 2014.) 


28 Comments on “The No. 1 Reason You SHOULD Always Drink at Office Parties

  1. If so, is checking for drunk Facebook pics of candidates during the recruiting process the ultimate hypocrisy?

    1. Are drunk pics equivalent to drinking pics? Maybe I severely underestimate our puritanism on the subject. Smiling with a pint glass and a flush face in pictures seems much more different than being passed out next to a toilet with sharpie writing all over your face. 

      I also think the “drunk pics” argument is a straw man for arguing that nothing on social networking sites is useful in the recruiting process. 

      1. Didn’t my #1 article of the century on TLNT put an end to this discussion?!

        If you can give me a valid & reliable way to process information on social networking sites, I’m thrilled.

        1. If you can give me a valid & reliable way to complete the entire hiring process that doesn’t result in discrimination, inappropriate placements and favoritism, I’ll be thrilled too. Until then though, no hiring.

          1. I don’t know Lance, seems like your arguing a strawman from a strawman position.  We don’t have an effective way to eliminate discrimination, inappropriate placements and favoritism, so why not use something that lends it self to those very things….   Validity, context, access to too much protected information, and no real mechanism for finding, tracking false, fraudulent and/or out of context information, scares me when it comes to recruiting/retention.   

          2. Unless you’re doing retina scans for every log in, deniability will always be in the way of a reliable way of verifying online information. It’s a pipe dream and just as unrealistic. Everything online can be spoofed.

            I won’t belabor my point though. We disagree. Even though I don’t believe adverse action should be taken based solely on that information or that HR people should use the same level of discretion as when other protected information is discovered in the hiring process.

            But can someone please tell all these people wasting their time building their personal brands online to stop? If no one can look (for fear of exposing bad information) and no one can check (based on the fact that it might be fraudulent), shouldn’t we be telling job seekers to spend their time on something that will actually be read by Google and social media scared hiring folks?

          3. I tell them to stop all the time. Building a brand is BS. Build your knowledge and your network. But also lets us not pretend that sourcing a candidate on linkedin or another professional website is the same as googling them. You want to know about someones professional accomplishments and like the SM format, ask for their linkedin profile. Pictures of your kids, pets, or your pithy commentary last nights game/show/political debate don’t tell me about your performance and work knowledge; but they likely give me insight into things I really shouldn’t know in regards to hiring you. 

          4. LinkedIn is about it if that’s the standard (as long as you ignore non-professional groups and discussions they may be a part of). A professional blog might qualify as long as you don’t mention anything that would make it remotely interesting or readable. 

  2. Disappointing that I choose not to drink anymore (for whatever reason, health, weight managment, religion, recovering addict…) and people who do drink feel uncomfortable. It’s a tough situation. So, i’ll take a cranberry with lime, and carry it around like a drink.  Sad but true, I’m okay with it, but my drinking co-workers are not…

  3. Very well put.  This is coming from someone who has learned to “hard way” to curb his enthusiasm as it relates to drinking a bit too much on during company functions!  Thanks for making me laugh.

  4. Personally I don’t want to encourage or pressure people to drink. But in general agree with you on this. If you can’t drink for whatever reason, don’t and don’t feel bad about it. But if you want to have a little something, I have no problem with it in moderation. But then again I spent a lot of time in the Hospitality industry early in my career, and alcohol is entrenched in that culture.  I can also hold  my liqueur and don’t have alcoholism in my family history, so my privilege is showing for sure.  

  5. I was kind of hoping that this article was a spoof, but then it wasn’t. Having a drink or two shouldn’t hurt your career, but by the same token, it shouldn’t necessarily help your career either. I agree that as adults, we should have the sense to stop at a couple. But I think it shows a lot more character and strength to be the one NOT drinking at a party. When I see an employee sipping on a coke (who isn’t obviously pregnant) where everyone else is tossing back a beer, I see someone who has integrity. This person isn’t going to agree just because everyone else does. They aren’t going to fall to pressure from their coworkers, which means that when I ask for their opinion, I have more confidence that it is, in fact, THEIR opinion.

    Drinking in a room filled with drinkers just means you are another faceless body in the crowd, doing what everyone else does regardless of what you may actually think about it. It doesn’t display confidence to drink where everyone else is drinking, it displays fear of being different. If you don’t want to drink, don’t. If you want to, go ahead (with discretion). If my job or prospects in the company depend on me drinking when I don’t think I should or would prefer not to, I guarantee I’ll be looking for another job…one where integrity is held to a higher standard than being one of the boys.

  6. I thought you were a non-conformist Laurie? This article is basically screaming to do whatever you have to do to fit in. When you have a drink, you look like a team player? Forming a bond with other employees? Mature adults should not looking around the room to see who is drinking and who is not. If you feel that is going on, find a new job at a company with a better culture.

    I’m on team Sackett

  7. Laurie, this post is exclusionary and utterly offensive. Did you know that there are about 2.5 million alcohol related deaths per year? That 4% of Canadians are alcoholics? That alcohol accounted for 8 per cent of all deaths (under 70 years old) and 7 per cent of all hospital stays in 2002? That 9 babies out of 1000 born in Canada each year are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder? That 3.2 Canadians are Muslims, a majority of whom do not drink? I’d love to see you look at the individuals and families whose lives have been destroyed due to alcohol in the eye and explain to them how you “SHOULD always” drink alcohol at office parties.

    On an unrelated note, the title of the article reads “The No. 1 Reason You SHOULD Always Drink at Office Parties”, and then you proceed to enumerate four separate reasons for why you should drink at office parties. Where did you get your education? Or were you too drunk to realize that “No. 1” does not equal four?

    1. I love that you’re quoting stats from 2002. Yes, alcohol can cause some bad things. So does smoking, or driving a car, or many other things we do in our daily lives.

      My advice to you here during the holiday season is this: lighten up, have a drink, and enjoy the season. Your lecturing, hectoring, over-the-top rant is unbecoming of a reader of TLNT.

      And Merry Christmas to you as well.

  8. Started a new HR Manager job 7 days ago, went to the Office Holiday Party two days ago – had a beer and was told that I made folks there feel better about their choice to hire me. Think that is a win.

  9. I’m sorry but this is the most ridiculous article that I have ever read in my life. And no I’m not exaggerating. I thought it was a joke at first. Do you have any idea what alcoholism can do to someone? Do you have anyone in your life that suffers from the debilitating and powerful disease of alcoholism? It is not a joke and should not be taken lightly. Shame on you.

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