4 Alternatives to Zoom Happy Hours

We’re still in a global pandemic that’s increased rates of psychological, medical, and economic stress. It might not surprise you to learn that alcohol consumption has also increased over the last year. Research shows that when individuals experience times of stress, they are more likely to develop symptoms of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. 

A recent study found that more people may be turning to alcohol to cope with pandemic stress and uncertainty. Researchers found that alcohol consumption increased by 14% from 2019 to 2020 and that women in particular experienced a 41% increase in alcohol consumption from a 2019 baseline. 

April is Alcohol Awareness Month — it may be a good time to check in with your employees as they continue to deal with pandemic-related stress and the added stress of slowly returning to old routines. Consider communicating directly with your workforce about their risk for alcohol abuse disorder and providing resources for seeking help. 

The most widely used screening tool for alcohol abuse disorders is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test), which has been established as one of the most accurate screening tools. Employees can conduct their own test and will be given a score and appropriate recommendations based on their responses. 

Employees who are concerned they might be experiencing alcohol abuse or dependence should have the resources to seek help if necessary. Encourage them to reach out to their Eden medical provider or the American Addiction Center for Alcohol at 1-866-351-7306. 

Even if employees aren’t at risk of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse, cutting back on alcohol is a great way to live a healthier life, maintain a healthy weight, and get better sleep. 

man playing guitar in front of computer

In an era of seemingly endless Zoom happy hours, here are some recommendations for team bonding that don’t revolve around alcohol: 

    1. One word: mocktails. If you host a virtual happy hour that involves an at-home mixology component, make sure you always provide a non-alcoholic drink option for employees. Normalizing alcohol-free activities may help employees who routinely abstain from drinking alcohol, or who are trying to cut back on their alcohol consumption, feel more comfortable in a group setting.  

    2. Break a sweat. Organizing a virtual team workout or meditation session is one way to promote healthy behaviors and encourage a different kind of team bonding. 

    3. Think outside the happy hour box. While most team bonding events are still virtual, challenge yourself to try something that doesn’t center drinking as the primary activity. Host a movie screening over Zoom, invite an author to sit in on a moderated panel for your employees, or host a coffee chat roulette midday so members from different teams can get to know one another.

    4. Highlight your employees. Nothing is more captivating or interesting than employees sharing a slice of themselves with each other, especially when they only know one another through Zoom. Virtual events like talent shows or fashion shows, tutorials, and personal employee journeys are all fresh and unexpected ways to gather employees together. 

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