How Office Happy Hours Could DESTROY Your Success at Work

The risk might not be worth the reward.

Photo by ELEVATE from Pexels

“Don’t trust a brilliant idea unless it survives the hangover.” — Jimmy Breslin

The good old happy hour.

I remember getting my first corporate job and thinking that it was amazing how much alcohol people could actually consume in a short period of time.

Shots were followed by more shots and even more shots.

The amount of fun that we had during these evenings, and eventual nights out, is rather hard to put a value around.

However, on the flip side, the amount of financial loss that I may have incurred during said happy hours could equally be hard to quantify as well.

The thing about happy hours is that they’re a two-edged sword.

While there are a number of fun and interesting stories that will often come from these episodes with co-workers and friends, there are also those small imperceptible losses that individuals experience with each time out that can add up over time.

Loss of money

When you’re a newly graduated college student, the thought of a half-price margarita and nachos sound like you’re doing the responsible thing to get a deal.

The problem with this is that stopping at one margarita can sometimes prove a bit challenging, and instead of saving money by taking advantage of the deal, one ends up buying a number of shots and other drinks that completely null and void any savings the reduced margarita may have yielded.

Also, if you’re happy hours are anything like what mine used to be like, the first happy hour spot becomes just a pre-game location that is priming you for the more main event location later.

So while the happy hour may start at 5 pm and end at 7 pm, the party couldn’t stop then. This would ultimately lead to the next location on the tour that probably wasn’t having any specials at all but was rather a good atmosphere to enjoy.

Therefore, that five-dollar margarita that seemed like such a good deal turned into a $40 bar tab of numerous margaritas and shots, which then turned into a $100 bar tab at the next spot of choice because their happy hour was over well before you got there.

Also, often when we are attending these events with co-workers, there is a tendency to want to build some goodwill and camaraderie with someone you may not have that great of a relationship with at the office.

This often leads to deciding to purchase a round of shots for everyone or that specific individual in an attempt to be nice and perhaps offer as a peace offering.

These gestures of niceness and attempts at relationship building can quickly run up one’s tab and change a low-key night into one in which you’ll have to check your bank balance the next day to make sure you have money for lunch for the rest of the week.

Loss of work productivity the next day

The next day’s hangover is one of the bain’s of human existence, as we’ve all been there before.

Sitting at your desk the next day, completely hungover and contemplating if you REALLY need this job is something that is as American as apple pie.

Being at work drunk appears to be one of the worst experiences ever while experiencing it in real-time. At the moment, you can’t think of very many things worse than it, as your head and stomach sometimes are very much questioning your decision-making ability to allow them to be in this spot.

You are basically trying to just make it noon, so you can then go to your car and sleep during your lunch break for an hour if possible.

I’ve done this numerous times in my work career and remember having a boss tell me that he didn’t care what I did the night before, as long as I was able to show up the next morning ready to work.

I pretty much took this to heart and proceeded to have a number of Fridays and random Wednesdays (thank you Drake for that “Going up on a Tuesday” song) in which I was just happy to make it through the day.

While the success of actually getting through the day was respected, what I didn’t take into account was how much success I possibly lost because I wasn’t able to give the day 100%.

Often, I would do my best to try to lay under the radar and not bring too much attention to myself. Therefore, if there was any type of meeting that involved me having to say or do much, I was not trying to be involved at all.

My thought process now is that even though I didn’t get fired and didn’t feel like I lost out on anything major during that time, there is no way of knowing how many opportunities I potentially gave up because I wasn’t able to put my best foot forward that day.

There is no way to prove a negative, but often I feel like that if I hadn’t been drunk on some of those days, I may have been willing to make one or two more phone calls or do one or two things differently or better than could’ve yielded exponential results in their return.

When you’re not able to truly give something 100%, and you know it, there always has to be the feeling of “what if?” in the back of your mind that could potentially drive you crazy if you haven’t experienced the level of success that you desire in life yet.

For me, looking back on my life and recognizing that my level of achievement was not matching up to my level of desire made me realize that I had to change something to ensure I felt there were no regrets at the end of the day.

When we risk drinking hard on “school nights” and not being able to give our all the next day, the chance of that regret is a possibility.

Loss of respect

This last loss can be the most devastating in regards to how much it can affect our present and our future.

I think many of us have been in situations in which we have said or done something while we were drinking that afterward had us scratching our heads in regards to what possessed us to do so.

When we are out with our friends in a random location in which we are not recognized by many people other than those that we came with, this often doesn’t lead to much in terms of future trouble.

However, when we make the mistake and drink a bit too much and allow such a mistake to occur when we are out with a few co-workers and perhaps even our boss, this can become a whole different ball of wax to consider.

I have seen many a promising career either derailed or completely ended (meaning this person got fired) because of something they did at a moment in which they drank a tad bit too much than they should’ve around co-workers.

Whether it was making a pass at the new intern or challenging a co-worker to a fight, there are certain things that will leave a stain on one’s career well after the hangover from the next morning wears off.

In the work environment, in which perception and respect can go a long way in regards to future advancement opportunities, it is imperative to not put oneself in a situation in which these things could be damaged.

Therefore, while happy hours may seem like they are one of the highlights of the workweek in many instances, if one isn’t careful and heed the warnings above, it can be anything but happy in the end.