Work Parties: Gen Z Normalises Socialising Without Alcohol

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Photo Credits - Yutacar via Unsplash

Generation Z (Gen Z) is reshaping work parties in the UK by drinking less alcohol. Traditional gatherings like staff parties, farewell parties, and Christmas work events have often featured alcohol, becoming deeply rooted in UK work culture.

However, studies by Drinkaware reveal a shift in drinking habits among Gen Z, who are less likely to consume alcohol compared to older age groups like those between 55 and 74. This trend reflects a broader decline in youth drinking across high-income European countries, the US, Australia, and New Zealand.

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Pressure to Drink at Work Parties

According to a report from Resource Solutions, over half (52%) of Gen Z and Millennial adults (aged 18 to 34) have experienced pressure to drink during work-related social events. Notably, 25% of individuals aged 25 to 34, who typically do not drink alcohol, have also felt pressured to partake.

Geographically, the pressure to consume alcohol is most pronounced in London, where 58% feel compelled, compared to 17% in Yorkshire and the Humber. Additionally, a gender disparity exists, with 18% of women feeling increased pressure to drink, as opposed to 13% of men who are not regular drinkers.

These discrepancies highlight the need for an inclusive approach to addressing workplace social dynamics. Ensuring that individuals from diverse backgrounds can comfortably engage in such events without unwarranted pressure or discomfort is crucial.

The UK Drinking Culture

The UK is known for its substantial alcohol consumption. In 2019, Drinkaware reported that among adults aged 16 and above, 57% consumed up to 14 units of alcohol per week, with an additional 23% exceeding this threshold. Gender disparities were evident, with 30% of males surpassing the 14-unit limit compared to 15% of females. Notably, age played a significant role, as those aged 55 to 64 were more likely to exceed the 14-unit benchmark compared to those aged 16 to 24 (31% vs. 15%).

Remarkably, the proportion of adults consuming more than 14 units weekly remained relatively stable between 2015 and 2019. This suggests that certain drinking habits endure over time, possibly influenced by broader societal and cultural factors.

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Guidelines for Employers

Given these trends, modern companies should reconsider alcohol-focused work parties Recognising diverse factors such as religious beliefs, health concerns, and personal preferences, it’s crucial to acknowledge that not all individuals share enthusiasm for alcohol-centered events.

Consequently, traditional practices like office happy hours and pub outings could be supplemented with a variety of alternative activities, such as community service, outdoor adventures, captivating performances, or immersive experiences, fostering a more inclusive and engaging environment.

Taking a proactive approach involves reducing alcohol availability during company events while ensuring ample non-alcoholic options are provided. Gathering input from the team, anonymously if necessary, can offer valuable insights into their feelings regarding events involving alcohol.

This approach enhances inclusivity and aligns event choices with the varied preferences of the workforce. By diversifying the range of social activities offered, employers can create a dynamic and accommodating social calendar that appeals to a broader spectrum of employees.

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