5 Tips For Staying Professional at Work Happy Hours

Whether it’s your first company happy hour or 15th, it’s important to stay professional. This is true regardless of whether you’re a 25-year-old new hire or a 55-year-old CEO. You don’t want to leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth due to your behavior out of the office.

There are a few easy ways to stay in good standing with your co-workers during and after a happy hour. Following these tips doesn’t mean you won’t have a great time, but it does mean you’ll leave a good impression. The way you act outside the office does affect the way you’re viewed in the office.

Stay on top of your behavior at your next company happy hour with these easy tips.

Avoid Risky Topics

Think before you speak. Healthy conversation is important, so don’t force boring topics, but stay away from hot-button issues. Avoid curse words and anything raunchy.

Don’t talk about other employees. People tend to get chatty after a few drinks but don’t let it affect your work relationships. If there’s someone that you manage and you can’t stand, don’t bring it up. Avoid the topic altogether.

Don’t Drink Too Much

Drink appropriately but try to avoid getting drunk. This will keep you on your A-game. People’s judgment typically goes out the window when they’re drunk. Don’t go overboard and remember to drink water and eat snacks. If you don’t, you could end up not remembering the happy hour in the morning. That would be bad.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Just because you’re out of the office doesn’t mean you should let loose like you’re at a happy hour with friends. Stay respectful and professional. Don’t start dancing on the table after a few drinks, instead use this time to network! Anything that happens at this happy hour will be remembered in the office by your team, boss, and, potentially, the CEO.

Don’t Flirt

This seems self-explanatory, but in reality, it happens. Stay away from anything bordering on flirtatious or promiscuous with any co-workers, especially your boss. If you don’t, it will lead to a messy situation, so stay safe and completely avoid it.


Don’t waste this opportunity! You’re with people above you after all. Use this time strategically and form relationships with your boss, your boss’s boss, etc. Have a great conversation with your VP about weekend plans or talk about common interests. Use this time to make a lasting impression. Show that you have confidence, don’t sit back and watch.

A company happy hour is a great chance to talk to co-workers that you might not have interacted with before and form new friendships. Just remember, there’s nothing good that comes from blacking out or being unprofessional during a company happy hour.

Caroline Howard

Written by Caroline Howard

Northern Virginia native turned southerner at The University of South Carolina. My skills include planning 4,000 attendee corporate events and then blogging about them. My friends always ask where I am, because when I'm not behind my laptop writing, I'm off exploring new places like Cuba and Spain.