Are Your Firm’s Happy Hours Overrated?

AccountingWeb’s UK site discussed a recent survey detailing the mixed emotions surrounding the typical work happy hour:

A new study entitled “Health of the Workplace” undertaken by insurance firm Aviva found that although nearly three out of five managers take staff to the pub for team building purposes, just over half of employees are not so keen on going out with their workmates and one in five actively dislike it.

The research also revealed that only 23% of bosses think that such socials create a positive sense of team spirit anyway, a third find them a bit of a drag and one in 10 feel obliged to attend to keep their staff happy.

We’ve all been there – out with “the team” to a half-assed planned happy hour finagled into that one Wednesday night between interim work and busy season. Or maybe it’s the Thursday-after-working-32-straight-days-up-to-the-filing-deadline party. Whatever the situation, I feel that many of you can relate to the rough statistics above.


I’m not saying that going out with coworkers is a bad idea, because it’s not. Interpersonal relationships with colleagues is an important factor in building trust and camaraderie on an engagement team. But if a bar scene is not the ideal environment for the group, what do you suggest?

The article continues on to say, “With budgets being tight, it might be better to spend the money on initiatives that benefit both employees and the company, for example, by providing `workplace wellness programmes.’” Big 4 firms have these initiatives already, and do you know who attends them? Certainly not the staff employees who are working from the client site!

With enough team planning, smaller engagements could work from the offices during these programs, but what about the larger, more permanent field sites? Why not have the “yoga at your desk” or “financial planning for your first child” programs visit the larger engagement sites? Book a conference room; make these events work free (no shop talk allowed); encourage people to interact with one another on a personal level.

Or we could all just sit at our desk and bitch about the mandatory Wednesday night happy hour.

AccountingWeb’s UK site discussed a recent survey detailing the mixed emotions surrounding the typical work happy hour:

A new study entitled “Health of the Workplace” undertaken by insurance firm Aviva found that although nearly three out of five managers take staff to the pub for team building purposes, just over half of employees are not so keen on going out with their workmates and one in five actively dislike it.

The research also revealed that only 23% of bosses think that such socials create a positive sense of team spirit anyway, a third find them a bit of a drag and one in 10 feel obliged to attend to keep their staff happy.

We’ve all been there – out with “the team” to a half-assed planned happy hour finagled into that one Wednesday night between interim work and busy season. Or maybe it’s the Thursday-after-working-32-straight-days-up-to-the-filing-deadline party. Whatever the situation, I feel that many of you can relate to the rough statistics above.


I’m not saying that going out with coworkers is a bad idea, because it’s not. Interpersonal relationships with colleagues is an important factor in building trust and camaraderie on an engagement team. But if a bar scene is not the ideal environment for the group, what do you suggest?

The article continues on to say, “With budgets being tight, it might be better to spend the money on initiatives that benefit both employees and the company, for example, by providing `workplace wellness programmes.’” Big 4 firms have these initiatives already, and do you know who attends them? Certainly not the staff employees who are working from the client site!

With enough team planning, smaller engagements could work from the offices during these programs, but what about the larger, more permanent field sites? Why not have the “yoga at your desk” or “financial planning for your first child” programs visit the larger engagement sites? Book a conference room; make these events work free (no shop talk allowed); encourage people to interact with one another on a personal level.

Or we could all just sit at our desk and bitch about the mandatory Wednesday night happy hour.

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