Do Alcohol and Business Mix?

As an employee, is it worth the risk to take alcoholic drinks at a business function? On the other hand, if you are in charge of deciding whether or not liquor should be served, do the benefits overcome the chance of problems occurring? There is no clear cut answer because much depend on your personality and the particular situation.
Years have seen alcohol used to spice up social occasions. Countless relationships have been established with the help of this drink. It enables you to build rapport with your clients, and you get to know people better. However, the same ability to loosen inhibitions has caused fights and other improprieties which are afterwards regretted.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to serving alcohol, but in the event that the decision has been set, the best thing to do is to take all possible precautions. Here are some tips to read before you get tipsy!
Tips for the Employee:
Know yourself. The most important consideration is your previous behavior. If you have a history of going out of control when drunk, then do not even consider drinking. There are also people who are unable to stop drinking once they have started. Realize that even if you have no skeletons in your closet and are non-violent, being in an intoxicated state may be harmful in itself to your career.
Know your company’s attitude towards drinking. Observe the bosses (especially your immediate boss!) and respected employees to see if they drink at company functions, as well as the prevailing culture when it comes to drinking. I know of a certain multinational company that even has a tradition of making new recruits drink as a way of initiation.
Predetermine your limit. If you have decided to drink, know beforehand how much you will consume and stick to your plan. Know how much you can drink that will enable you to still function normally. Even a glass of wine may be too much for some people. However, even if you can handle a case, do not go beyond two bottles of beer or a glass of wine, and avoid hard liquor.
Look for another job if you cannot avoid excessive drinking. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you cannot avoid drinking too much, then consider looking for another job. This is sometimes the case in some sales jobs where the host is obligated to drink with his clients. You should see first if you can go for a non-alcoholic drink instead, but if it doesn’t work and your health is at risk, then another type of work maybe a better option.
Tips for the Manager:
Do not allow an open bar. Open bars encourage unlimited consumption and is almost certain to increase the number of intoxicated individuals. Have drink tickets to limit the amount of drinks that can be consumed. If you must have an open bar, allow only a short time for the bar to be open.
Make sure people have already eaten. Drinking on an empty stomach allows alcohol to be absorbed rapidly since there is no food to slow down its passage.
Talk to employees on the proper drinking etiquette. It may just be common sense but certain things are worth repeating; not only so that it will be remembered, but also to emphasize its importance. Some of the things to discuss are the limit on the number of glasses, and arrangements on who will be driving, and the company rules on misbehavior.
Instruct waiters or bartenders not to serve persons that appear intoxicated, and do not let people serve themselves. Often intoxicated people keep on ordering regardless of their condition. This is hard to avoid if they can get the drink themselves and so this must not be allowed.
Have contingency plans ready. Know what to do in case somebody does become troublesome. Assign people who will be tasked to take action if problem erupts. A good idea is to have a room to stay for those too drunk to go home.
Avoid serving hard liquor or punch. Hard liquor is too potent for many people. In the case of punch, the problem is that many people find it hard to know how much alcohol they are consuming until they are already drunk.
Sometimes alcohol and business do mix, and you have to know the right way to conduct yourself if you are an employee. Consider other options if it already threatens your health or is contrary to your values. If you are the employer or manager who must decide whether to serve alcoholic drinks, think long and hard about the potential problems that may arise in return for a short time of fun—it may not be worth the risks.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.