In hindsight I don’t know why I was so trepidatious when our CEO asked me to order a kegerator for the office. Had he thought this through? Because I could think of a dozen ways this could go south, from the never-live-it-downs to the call-my-lawyers. I was all for company sponsored happy hours, but a limitless Fountain of Truth?
Needless paranoia it turns out. Having a keg in our office has been 100% self-regulating. Nobody wants to be that person, so nobody behaves like that person. The unspoken agreement around our barrel of Stella (finally changed to Allagash – thanks Ronnie!) is that this is a privilege not to be blown. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that if you assume people are mature, they’ll want to prove you right.
I’d even suggest the keg gets a little more work out of us. You might grind through late afternoon a little harder knowing you can decompress with a beer at the end of the day instead of just jumping on a crowded train.
For our company it’s money well spent. Beer on tap not only takes the sting out of working late, but injects a little life into our culture. Organic after-hours hangs just seem to happen more often. If you value culture you’re treating your employees regularly anyway. While not an outright replacement for offsite events, a keg is certainly a smarter spend than carting twelve packs from Duane Reade.
All nice side benefits, but the real motivation for putting a keg in our office? Our CEO once said to me, “I want this to be a place where people actually don’t mind coming to work.” A lot of other things fall into place when people are happy. Attrition drops. Innovation rises. I’m not saying we’re some amazing anomaly of culture, but we regularly try out new ideas to improve it. (Experiences are king, by the way. Give your team new experiences and watch how long they stick around.)
The keg question is: How mature is your team? Culture trickles down so if your leadership doesn’t set a great example there’s a bigger issue at hand. Beyond that, the behavior of the majority rules, and any decent new hire will take note of the vibe and make a concerted effort to fit in.
We recommend starting with a hard rule of after hours only, just to kibosh any Mad Man who thinks a liquid lunch with help him crush that afternoon presentation. It’s a perk you might wonder why you went so long without. You might start wonder what else your team is ready to handle.