Dry January Tips: how to make team socials more inclusive

Jan 6, 2022 | Blog

‘Twas the season to be jolly. We’ve been cheersing left, right, and centre – to seasons greetings, families reunited, friends together again, New Year merriment… the reasons were endless!   But after a few months of non-step revelry, some of us will decide it’s the right time to take part in ‘Dry January’ – whether as a New Year’s resolution, temporary detox, or permanent life change. So for some in your team, there may be challenges ahead.

Dry January benefits:

  • Better sleep: 70% of Dry January participants say they found they slept more soundly
  • Lower blood pressure: A study saw a month off from drinking can lower blood pressure
  • Less risk of diabetes: This Royal Free Hospital research saw diabetes risk reduced
  • Lower cholesterol: The data also suggested it’s linked to lower cholesterol
  • Improved health: in general, 65% of people report experiencing general health benefits
  • Big savings: of the people who take on the challenge, 80% manage to save money
  • Better habits: 70% of Dry January participants have healthier drinking habits long-term
  • Higher wellbeing: people who’ve done Dry January report higher levels of wellbeing

Drinking at work and peer pressure

So we know why people undertake Dry January, and the benefits it can have. But what’s that got to do with our working lives? The answer may be a confronting one: peer pressure. 35% of us have drunk more than intended due to encouragement from peers, and 57% of drinkers say they wish there was less pressure to drink.  But concerningly, in work settings, 43% agree there’s too much pressure to drink from their colleagues – in settings like after work drinks – and 8% of women and 13% of men have experienced pressure from their boss themselves at work drinks! Although pressure to drink is a wider issue, its prevalence in the workplace should be considered.

Don’t forget: Dry January isn’t the only reason to avoid booze

Whether it’s employees drinking at work after hours, or seasonal social activities, it’s important to remember year-round that not everyone is necessarily up for a pint. Beyond Dry January, there are a multitude of reasons why – religious or cultural reasons, medication restrictions, unannounced pregnancies, or other personal reasons, like a bad family history with alcohol.  There’s nothing wrong with a post-work pub catch-up, but if your workplace culture means people need to give an excuse for drinking alcohol, then you might have a problem.

4 dry January activities & inclusive social ideas for the whole year

Whether you’re looking for things to do during Dry January, or want to make sure you’re offering a range of inclusive social events to your team, we’ve got a few ideas to get you started:

1. Activity-based socials

The secret to a drink-optional outing is centering it around an activity. This doesn’t have to break the bank either – you can opt for the more elaborate group classes, like pasta making, but a good old fashioned trip to the bowling alley can hit the spot too.

2. Lunchtime meals out

Evening-based social events are always going to come with the expectation of drinking. To avoid that altogether, you could consider a team lunch instead of dinner – allow an extended break and head out for something tasty, then back to the office for collaborative work.

3. Office-based film nights

Another lower-cost, bar-free idea could be to hold a film viewing in the office itself. Think big screen, endless amounts of popcorn and pizza, beanbags and soft drinks – it’s a good way to chill out together, without things getting lary later on.

4. Coffee & cake morning

Why not think about a coffee and cake morning? Employees could bring in their own bakes, and charge a nominal fee to go towards charity – take an hour to have a brew and enjoy a slice and a chat, and you’ll see their bond boosted for the rest of the day.

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