Why I Don’t Like Work Happy Hours

after work activities, happy hour, socializing after work

They’re supposed to be a good thing.  They might be a periodic gathering to promote team building, or maybe it’s a token of appreciation for a job well done. My department recently had an employer hosted department happy hour, and I just flat out didn’t want to go.

It wasn’t always like this, I used to love department happy hours. Even if my employer didn’t pick up the bill. I was the guy that would walk through the aisles at work telling everyone to shut down their workstations because it was time to go be sociable. The work would still be there the next day, but happy hour could and should not wait.


Somewhere along the way, my perspective on work social events changed.

Nowadays, going to any work related social event feels like an obligation. After all, it’s an invitation from my employer. Who says, “No,” to their employer? Who would say, “No” to free food and drinks? I’m the guy that always says, “Yes.” I’m the guy that never turns down a request from my employer. It feels strange to turn down the invitation.

The people aren’t the problem.

I like the people I work with. I don’t even mind spending time socially with them. The problem is the timing. I give my job 100% within my cubicle walls. But when it’s time to leave, I want to go home. I have school events, church events, and things that my wife and I do together. I have this blogging thing I do at night as well. Once I walk out my office door, I’m on my own time, and work social events infringe upon my personal time.

Work social events actually cause me stress.

It’s a lot like going on vacation, honestly. In preparation to go on vacation, many times you have to work twice as hard to prepare to be gone. Accommodations need to be made to ensure things keep going while you’re not where you usually are. Then, when you return home, you have to again work twice as hard to make up for not being where you normally are, and complete tasks that didn’t get done.

I can’t remember the last time I showed up at a work social event with my heart fully into it. Many times there is a legitimate reason why I can’t attend. Sometimes I make something up so my absence is expected. Occasionally I make an appearance and then cut out early to minimize the work/life balance damage.

How about you, Clever Friends, does anyone else dislike work social events or am I the only one?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • I totally agree. My time after work is my time, and now that I have a family and a home and other obligations, the importance of going out and socializing with people that I generally see all day anyway just doesn’t do it for me.

  • I can completely relate to this from my days in the office. It definitely has a cost associated with it. Most of my waking hours were spent in the office or on the commute. It was hard enough to find time during the evening and weekends to be social with my friends. After starting a family it became even more difficult and I often did the same by finding excuses not to attend.

    Now I work from home most of the year so I don’t get bothered with this sort of thing. When I do fly out to the office, it’s not quite as bad since I need to get the social time to maintain working relationships. There’s just something lost over Webex.

  • Yeah I completely get it – how can you relax, have fun and be yourself with you boss and coworkers present. I think some work environments are easier than others to do this. But on the whole I steer clear if possible (make an appearance and then leave early)

  • This post reminds me of a commercial where the voiceover says “when did leaving work at quitting time become an act of courage?” I don’t even remember what the ad was for but I love that line. Going to happy hour with co-workers might be ok once a month or so, but any more than that is seriously taking time away from my family. When I was single, I’d work extra hours (for extra money) and go out with the crew (for socialization) but once married and especially after having a child, all I wanted to do was head for home.

  • Those days are long behind me, but I remember one particular instance that made me crazy. At 6 pm, when I was just about ready to leave the office for my 45-minute commute home, the CEO asked me to go shopping with him for a commercial vehicle, and I would need to travel almost an hour in the wrong direction to do it. So by the time we’d be done it would be 9 pm and I’d have almost a 2 hour commute home. I politely declined his gracious offer. This was the same boss who asked me quizzically if I actually liked spending time with my family. Um, yeah, and certainly more than I liked spending time with him.

  • I completely agree and feel the same. I’m happy to work hard during the day and during the occasional after-hours event I have to cover for my job, but I’m not interested in extra socialization. Even though I like the people I work with, I like my partner, family and friends more! hah. And I already feel like I see my co-workers more than anyone else.

    I think I’m lucky in the sense that I’m the youngest person in my office, so most of my co-workers already have children and spouses, so they’re not particularly interested in after hours socialization typically. Can’t complain about that! 😉 haha

  • @Chuck – as I get older, it seems to be harder and harder to fit the activities that are important to me into daily life. Trying to then shoe horn in something that isn’t a priority just seems silly. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • @Taylor – you might be surprised at how things change….sometimes you get people that are married with kids and WANT to socialize because they want to get out for some time away from the family. I personally do not fall in the category, but I have coworkers that do!

  • I completely agree. When my time is up at work, I’m on my own time and that means a lot to me. My main issue is that I am hourly and my workday is done at 4:00p. All of these happy hours don’t begin until 5-5:30. So not only am I taking time out of “me time” for the actual happy hour, but I have an extra hour to kill in the city before it begins!

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