I recently joined a young and dynamic agency where there is a large emphasis on after work drinks. Although I have attended a few of these, they are becoming so regular that I feel pressured into attending in order to build and maintain relationships. I have other commitments in my personal life and am finding it hard to balance the two, along with late nights. I’m also worried this will soon affect my energy levels at work, what can I do?
It sounds to me like there are two things to consider here; one how much time you want to spend socialising with the agency and two how much drinking you want to do on a regular basis.
As we know, agencies are social places and alcohol makes a regular appearance on many occasions; celebrating pitch wins, leaving drinks, summer parties, Xmas parties and team drinks. Many of us are fortunate to have an agency bar with endless supplies of alcohol and fridges full of drinks for the taking.
There is also a leadership factor to consider, as employers have a duty of care to their staff. Perhaps agency leaders should review the financial cost of limitless alcohol each quarter and at the very least look to mix up their agency drinks menu with juices, coconut water and other non alcoholic options. Perhaps a monthly drinks quota could be introduced and once it's drunk it's not replenished until the following month. Not everyone drinks alcohol and not everyone wants to drink it all the time. Instead of the wobbly trolley, I've always thought a weekly tea and cake trolley might make for a very social alternative as we gather over an urn and a cuppa.
If you are concerned about your alcohol intake and how to control it, you can always speak to NABS, your own Employee Assistance Programme or the AA for further help and advice. If you have concerns about a colleague, you could try and speak to them if you feel it appropriate and let them know there are these sources of advice and support.
Ultimately, if you have particular concerns about someone else, you could always raise this concern confidentially with your manager or the HR team for further guidance and support. This is highly sensitive, so clearly any suspicions or concerns you have should neither be passed on to nor discussed with other colleagues and friends.
Line managers and HR should also keep an eye on frequent patterns of sickness, particularly on Mondays, as research suggests this could be indicative of a heavy weekend. Such patterns should be discussed with the employee to establish if there is an issue that requires support. If those frequent absence patterns continue, you might have to instigate a formal absence management and/or disciplinary/capability procedure, taking legal advice as required.
Let's now take a look at how you spend your time. I'm sure you do not want to miss out on the fun and want to be part of the agency action but we all need boundaries. And you have other things to do in your life. However I can see there is a pressure to be out with everyone. And a pressure to be seen to be drinking. Consider how many nights per month you want to be out and take a look at which agency events are the important ones to be at and to be seen at. Pace yourself. If you don't want to drink too much, look at other non alcoholic options and restrict your intake. Drink slowly. Buy your own zero alcohol beer so you look like everyone else. When you say you are popping along "for a quick one", stick with that.