Conflict Of Interest: Office Parties And The Next Day At Work

In anticipation of The Hangover: Part 2′s release tonight (I personally still think it should have been called Still Hungover but whatever) we thought it would be smart to address the issue of being a manager with hungover employees.

Now in most cases if a employee comes in hungover and you find out about it this can lead to a lot of negative consequences depending on your management style, if this is a frequent occurrence and if the employee’s performance is hindered (some people aren’t affected or in some cases, they may actually be more productive). However, if your employee is hungover because they were drinking at a work-related event this presents a conflict of interest for the employer.

I talked to one woman who worked at a New York-based publishing company where the first year she was there they gave her department the day off after an office Christmas party the night before. “Basically it was like permission to get as drunk as we wanted because we had a vacation day to recover,” she said. The next year however the party was on a Monday so employees were told they could come in the next day between 9am and 10am instead of their usual 8:30 am. “Most of the office dragged their butts in their by 10am. People were doing work but it was very quiet. It was not like a normal work day,” she said.

The woman said one employee did not make it in until noon of that day. Her direct manager got very upset with her but at the same time the other employees that made it in earlier were not really working at a normal rate until noon. The woman said she had told the tardy employee that it made her look like she didn’t respect her workplace coming in that late but is it disrespectful to go to work when you are hungover and to pretend not to be?

Basically there is a very tricky line being crossed because on the one hand you are encouraging employees to participate in a work event that has drinking and you want them to have fun but when the clock strikes midnight you want them to go home so they can turn into your productive employees in the morning again. It is basically the same principle as the story of Cinderella except with an office and instead of a fairy godmother, it is Jim Beam.

From the managers I spoke with the sentiment seems to be that you as a manager need to draw the line. Tell them to have a good time but remind them you need them to make that deadline tomorrow. Their goal should be to be the second biggest life of the party. Be the Andy Richter of your office party, not the Conan O’Brien.

One manager said she gets bagels with her employees the day after a work drinking event. “Hungover is okay but you cant come in at like noon,” she said. If they are not being productive another manager said he would not be too harsh. “I wouldn’t say something the first time. Maybe just allude to it taking too long without saying it was cause of the drinking.”

By the way, according to a survey by Drinkware more than half a million people are hungover at work on any given day.

Photo: Warner Brothers

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