As a 20+ year HR professional, I have had my fair share of employee relations issues and team conflict. When I’m digging into these situations, many stem from an after-hours work setting or a failed attempt at team building. Inevitably, someone says, “And after a couple of drinks, Pat said…” According to Huddy’s Hotcakes HR Consulting Group, 57% of every employee relations scenario involves alcohol*. So as your winding down the week and thinking of getting the team together after work, please know that “Happy Hours”‘are the worst team building activity.
Sure, opening the tab for the team seems like a great idea. Loosen everybody up, build some camaraderie, and have some fun. But if you’re already having a little conflict on the team or sensing some strained relationships, adding alcohol is the last thing to do. It’s like throwing gasoline on a lit matchstick.
I can’t count how many issues I’ve had that stem from a happy hours. And there’s a good chance one of your team members doesn’t drink or doesn’t want to hang out with co-workers any more than they have to. Be aware and be conscious of all the voices on the team.
I love a good happy hour as much as the next bro. Pour me a hazy IPA and you’ve made your first HR friend. But it’s not the best solution for managing conflict or building strong teams.
If you want some ideas, take your HR guy out for a strong coffee or an early morning run. He’d be happy to talk about your situation and walk you through some scenarios that will accomplish just what you’re looking for. Maybe he’ll make your team some pancakes and open up a dialogue about your team dynamics. I can think of 7 different activities that are more effective in building high performing teams without the hangovers and headaches.