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13 Inclusive Alternatives to Replace Professional Happy Hours

In search of inclusive alternatives to professional happy hours, we reached out to CEOs, founders, and marketing specialists for their innovative suggestions. From hosting learning sessions or workshops to throwing a mocktail party, discover the top 13 alternatives these professionals recommend for fostering a more inclusive work environment.

  • Host Learning Sessions or Workshops

  • Engage in Team Charity Events

  • Organize a Scavenger Hunt

  • Plan an Escape-Room Adventure

  • Initiate Virtual Team-Building Events

  • Celebrate Cultural Diversity

  • Foster Unity Through Group Volunteering

  • Boost Morale With Gamification

  • Conduct Trivia Challenges

  • Promote Wellness With a Self-Care Day

  • Facilitate Get-to-Know-Me Sessions

  • Organize a Virtual Cooking or ‘Cuisine Exchange’ Event

  • Throw a Mocktail Party

Host Learning Sessions or Workshops

Hosting virtual learning sessions or workshops could cover a range of topics—from professional development to skill-building in areas that align with team members' interests.

This approach allows individuals who may not drink or those who may feel excluded or uncomfortable in social drinking settings to take part fully. It supports lifelong learning and encourages team bonding over shared experiences and knowledge.

Michael Sena, Founder and CEO, SENACEA

Engage in Team Charity Events

Work happy hours can be fun, but from a company’s perspective they also can lead to serious liability. For example, if the company serves alcohol at a work function, or purchases drinks for an employee at a bar, the organization may be liable if an employee subsequently harms a third party by drunk driving or otherwise.

To eliminate this possibility the group activity I have seen most effective is a team charity event. There are many such activities organized by churches or other religious institutions, or other non-profits. Not only does the activity give back to the community, it builds comradery among the team and unlike alcohol isn’t a depressant that will cause them to miss work the next day.

Organize a Scavenger Hunt

How about hosting a scavenger hunt instead of a professional happy hour? It's a lively and inclusive activity that promotes teamwork and bonding. Scavenger hunts involve teams finding hidden clues and completing challenges, fueling our competitive spirit.

The best part? You can organize them in the office, around the city, or even online for remote teams. It's an exciting way to create a positive and engaging work environment without relying on alcohol.

Plan an Escape-Room Adventure

Consider organizing an escape-room adventure! Escape rooms provide a fun and engaging way for colleagues to bond and work together outside the office. These life-sized puzzles require teams to find clues and solve challenges in order to escape a locked room. The best part? Escape rooms can be enjoyed both in-person and online, making them accessible for remote teams too.

Schedule the adventure during regular work hours to increase participation and accommodate those with family responsibilities or other commitments. It's a surefire way to promote teamwork and connection among your employees.

Initiate Virtual Team-Building Events

One inclusive alternative to replacing professional happy hours is to organize virtual team-building activities or events that cater to a diverse range of interests and preferences.

This allows for more inclusive participation and creates a welcoming environment for all team members. For example, instead of focusing solely on alcohol-centric socializing, consider organizing activities such as virtual game nights, wellness challenges, or skill-sharing sessions.

Virtual game nights can include interactive online games that encourage collaboration and friendly competition. These can be tailored to accommodate different interests and skill levels, ensuring that everyone can actively participate and enjoy the experience.

Wellness challenges can involve activities like virtual fitness classes, meditation sessions, or group challenges focused on physical or mental well-being. Such activities promote a healthier work-life balance and foster a sense of community among team members.

Celebrate Cultural Diversity

Organize events where team members can share and celebrate their diverse cultures, traditions, and cuisines.

This inclusive alternative encourages appreciation and understanding of different backgrounds within the team. For example, the company hosts a monthly "Cultural Showcase" where team members can prepare presentations about their culture, sharing unique aspects, traditions, and even cuisines.

This promotes inclusivity by creating a platform for everyone to learn and appreciate the diversity within the team.

Roy Lau, Co-Founder, 28 Mortgage

Foster Unity Through Group Volunteering

Group volunteering offers a valuable alternative to traditional professional happy hours. Group volunteering allows colleagues to come together for a meaningful cause, fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie in the workplace. By organizing group volunteering events, teams can bond while positively affecting their community.

This collaborative experience promotes teamwork, empathy, and a shared purpose. Participants can develop new skills, strengthen relationships, and better understand social issues. Group volunteering can also enhance employee well-being by providing a break from work-related stress and offering a fulfilling experience outside the office.

Embracing group volunteering as an alternative to professional happy hours encourages a more inclusive and socially responsible approach to team-building and creates a positive work environment.

Boost Morale With Gamification

Gamification is one inclusive alternative to replace professional happy hours. The games create healthy competition among employees and manifest a sense of achievement at each "level" achieved. With gamification, the teams will become more enthusiastic to reach the next goals and earn more points.

This improves the relationship between employees and makes the corporate environment more pleasant, which maximizes productivity and contributes to talent retention. In addition, gamification is highly customizable and, therefore, can be changed to get aligned with your business needs.

Lou Reverchuk, Co-Founder and CEO, EchoGlobal

Conduct Trivia Challenges

Even if you're not interested in a happy hour, one of the other fun and inclusive activities to be done at many bars, restaurants, and community centers is trivia challenges or pub quizzes.

These are always great fun for the entire team and let everyone take a moment in the spotlight.

From forming your team name to finding out who has the most interesting trivia knowledge, to being impressed by the person who helps you lock down the music round—there is something for everyone to get involved with.

Promote Wellness With a Self-Care Day

Instead of the usual professional happy hours, why not plan a team self-care office day? Think team yoga classes, chair massages, or a healthy potluck lunch. By prioritizing self-care, you give your team the chance to recharge, destress, and bond in a more laid-back setting.

Facilitate Get-to-Know-Me Sessions

Get-to-know-me sessions are a really inclusive replacement for professional happy hours. These sessions give every employee a chance to know his or her coworkers on a personal level, rather than just professionally.

They are purely based on skill set and knowledge sharing, which is better than traditional happy hours or alcoholic parties.

Faizan Khan, PR and Content Marketing Specialist, Ubuy UK

Organize a Virtual Cooking or ‘Cuisine Exchange’ Event

An alternative way to replace professional happy hours is to organize a virtual cooking class or a 'Cuisine Exchange' event.

In this event, each member can select a dish from their cultural background and can show other people how to prepare it. These type of shows promote cultural diversity and harmony and also allows everyone to share their culinary traditions.

The team members can learn about many dishes and bond over a shared love for food. This inclusive cooking event celebrates diversity, encourages participation, and creates a collaborative and enjoyable experience for all team members.

Rob Smith, Head Chef, Your Private Chef

Throw a Mocktail Party

Hosting a mocktail party can be a great alternative to traditional professional happy hours, providing colleagues with an inclusive and adaptable social gathering. By organizing a mocktail party, companies create a space where everyone can take part and feel comfortable, regardless of personal preferences or dietary restrictions.

This shift allows for a more inclusive environment, promoting a sense of belonging and fostering positive relationships among team members. Mocktail parties encourage creativity in drink concoctions, allowing individuals to showcase their mixology skills and experiment with unique flavors.

This social setting also promotes networking and team bonding, as attendees engage in conversations and exchange ideas in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. With mocktail parties, companies can adapt to the diverse needs of their employees, ensuring that everyone can take part and feel included in the organization's social fabric.

Joe Acosta, Digital Marketing Manager, BBQ Galore