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Cheers! The Revival of Happy Hour in the Workplace

March 16, 2024

In 1914, the concept of “happy hour” emerged when the U.S. Navy organized evening events for on-duty sailors, aiming to provide entertainment through food, music, and dancing. During the era of prohibition “happy hour” took on a different connotation. With the ban on alcoholic beverages, the term came to represent the clandestine act of enjoying a drink after work but before heading home, as noted by the Huffington Post.

The end of prohibition in 1933 marked the acceptance of happy hour as a legitimate form of post-work socializing. By the 1960s, businesses in the food and beverage industry recognized its popularity and began offering discounted food and drinks to attract more patrons.

Despite a decline in popularity during the pandemic, return to office work has led to a resurgence of happy hours, according to a report by the New York Times. This revival is welcomed news for human resources departments, as happy hour events can foster a sense of community among employees.

Here are some fun happy hour facts:
  • 2.5 – number of hours the average patron spends at a Happy Hour.
  • 26 – the percent extra a bar earns during Happy Hour
  • 55 – percent of Americans who have attended a “virtual Happy Hour” (oh COVID!)
But, be careful, happy hour is currently banned in these nine states:
  • Alaska
  • Indiana
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
  • Rhode Island

If hosting a corporate happy hour, make sure that non-alcoholic beverages are offered, and that food is available. Encourage responsible behavior, and if necessary, provide transportation alternatives. Additionally, consider offering alternative activities or entertainment options to promote engagement without solely relying on alcohol consumption.


By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner, ASE.

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