Seven ideas for alcohol-free team socials


Work socials are a really important part of working life. They provide an environment where employees can forge closer relationships with colleagues, making them happier at work and boosting productivity. Well-planned team building events also make employees feel valued, and gives them a sense of belonging – vital for happiness and mental health.

But the downside is that most company socials involve an over indulgence in alcohol, which is bad for employees wellbeing and the hangovers and health effects  can be bad for business too.

BMG Research’s UK-wide survey of 1,000 employees conducted in April 2017 found that over the last 12 months more than 44 million days were lost in productivity due to alcohol. And one in five of all employees said they had at least one day off work a year as a result of a hangover.

Combine this with the fact that more than nine million people in England drink more than the recommended daily limits of alcohol and that alcohol-related harm costs businesses £7.3 billion from lost work days and productivity (Alcohol Concern 2016) – businesses should not ignore their role in encouraging healthy behaviours among their employees.

But when post-work drinks can be such a popular and easy way to bond teams, what can you replace them with? Contrary to popular belief, at Benenden we think it’s possible to have great team social events that are as much fun without alcohol as with it. They are also much more inclusive for pregnant women and those who prefer not to drink.

Take a look at these seven alcohol-free group activities that are perfect social activities that don’t centre around alcohol, and could help boost your employee’s health and happiness as well as encouraging genuine team spirit.

A great workplace activity is to get out and help a local cause that aligns with your company values. Ask your local volunteer service about groups or areas that might need help to create a community allotment, to spruce up a tired playgroup or perhaps to teach IT skills to the long-term unemployed.

Physical challenges, such as clearing weeds or rubbish, help desk-bound teams to rediscover the benefits of getting away from screens and phones for a few hours. See how we got our hands dirty helping transform a local community centre.

It’s an approach that not only benefits the community but will have a positive impact on internal teams.

Classic sports days
Combine a bit of fresh air and some classic activities to let your employees relive a bit of their childhood and get camaraderie in full flow. Nostalgic team games like wheel barrow races, tug of wars, sack race, three legged races and rounders will create lots of laughter. Events such as egg-and-spoon relay races and paper, scissors, stone competitions – for the less sporty types, make them inclusive for everyone. They’re fun, healthy, active and outdoors. They worked at school, and it can work just as well in the workplace.

Office Olympics
For a more accessible and impromptu event why not try Office Olympics. Events can include paper aeroplane (javelin), throwing paper balls into waste paper baskets from the furthest distance (archery), synchronised office chair swivel and remote control or skelectric car races. Wii games are also great fun to add into the Olympic mix or as an event on its own – decorate a large conference room in your office and set up a couple Wii machines to have employees battle against each other, to complete a decathlon or even sing in a rock band or dance to their favourite tunes. Just make sure there are couches and other places to comfortably sit, have everyone dress casually, and treat them to pizza. You’ll be surprised how much employees will embrace the fun and how competitive they’ll get a laughter-filled, fun time for employees of all ages.

Escape room games
Getting locked in a room doesn’t sound like fun but turn it into a challenge to get out and hey presto! Lock teams in rooms and set them the same time to solve puzzles, find clues and hidden objects to try set themselves free. Great for team bonding; logic, patience, teamwork and are also lots of fun.

Laser quest
Sounds silly but pitting departments and teams against each other, then letting them run loose for an afternoon of nostalgic fun in a laser quest arena provides all the competitive fun of paintball without the liability and safety risks. This activity allows colleagues to engage in teamwork, bond together and have a great time.

Murder mystery
Finish off a big company meeting or conference with a murder mystery. Does your team have the problem solving skills and powers of deduction needed to work out who dunnit? Murder Mystery team building events are a fun and powerful way to bring together members of employees in solving a crime and will get your staff both thinking, and working, together to start solving clues and interacting. The event won’t fail to challenge, engage and amuse. Whether you do it professionally with actors or get your team to play the roles, it’ll be sure to generate lots of laughs and get everyone chatting.

Go-kart racing
It’s something many employees are unlikely to do on their own, so it’s a new opportunity you’re offering them. It’s fun, minimally competitive, and can offer a boost in energy and high spirits.

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So next time you need an idea for a team social don’t just default to beer and wine which aren’t great for employees’ health and can lead to sore heads and low productivity the next day. Try one of these seven super ideas that’ll be good for not only your employees, but also your business.

This content originally appeared on Benenden’s workplace hub where employers can find a range of related articles to help with their health and wellbeing strategy.