Workplace alcohol not always a perk for recent college grads seeking jobs

February 19, 2018

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Offering alcohol to employees in the workplace may be a trendy perk of employment, but it doesn't appear to be an enticement for recent college graduates just entering the workforce, research published this week from Oregon State University shows.

Some technology companies, marketing agencies and consulting firms are embracing consumption of alcohol in the workplace as part of their organizational culture. Wine, beer and even full bars are touted as employee perks to help attract talented employees and entice employees to stay on the job during evening hours.

But alcohol can also be a divisive issue in the workplace, and may actually be a deterrent for some potential employees, said Anthony Klotz, an assistant professor in the College of Business at OSU and lead author of the paper.

"A lot of companies seem to assume that young people will view alcohol-based perks positively, but in reality, alcohol can be a turn off for many applicants," Klotz said. "These kinds of little things can play a significant role in terms of people's interest in working somewhere."

Klotz began examining the role of permissive workplace drinking in recruiting in part because of questions from students and recent graduates.

"Students preparing to enter the workforce ask a lot of questions about alcohol and job interviews and the best way to navigate those situations," Klotz said. "And generally, people are confused about how to deal with alcohol in the workplace. Not everyone finds it appealing."

Klotz and co-author Serge da Motta Veiga of American University conducted two studies to evaluate how permissive workplace norms affected prospective employees' perceived fit with a company and their attraction to the company. The results were published in the journal Human Resource Management.

In the first study, 180 college students in an upper-division business course were randomly assigned to review one of two recruitment flyers for a fictitious company and answer survey questions about their attraction to the organization and their perceived fit with the firm.

In one version of the flyer, employees were depicted holding coffee cups; in the other version, they held alcoholic beverages. The first version of the flyer described employee activities including staff luncheons, while the other listed happy hours.

In the second study, 122 college students were randomly given one of two variations of a job interview scenario involving dinner with prospective coworkers. In the first scenario, each coworker orders water at dinner; in the second, each coworker orders an alcoholic beverage. Study participants were asked what they would do next. They also answered similar questions about their attraction to the organization and perceived fit with the company.

In both studies, participants were also asked questions relating to their level of political skill, which refers to the a set of social abilities that helps them effectively understand others at work, influence others in ways that enhance their own objectives and navigate social situations with confidence.

Klotz and da Motta Veiga predicted that those with high political skill are more likely to be comfortable at alcohol-based events, while those with low political skill may be unable to take advantage of the social benefits that the combination of alcohol and work provide.

The studies showed that participants with lower levels of political skill were less likely to see themselves as fitting in and wanting to work at the company when the recruiting advertising and dinner out included alcohol.

"This is a specific condition where alcohol is harmful in recruiting prospective employees," Klotz said. "However, we didn't find any significant upside to including alcohol for the participants that showed high levels of political skill."

The findings suggest that job seekers examine and attempt to decipher even small aspects of an organization's culture, including references to and availability of alcohol during recruitment activities, as they evaluate whether that workplace will be a good fit for them, Klotz said.

"When people enter the job market, they are looking for a company that shares their values," he said. "When the sales pitch is focused on the area's wineries, happy hours, or the availability of beer at work, it may raise questions about fit for prospective employees."

Companies should be authentic about the culture of drinking within the workplace; if alcohol is part of the workplace culture, it should be clearly communicated in recruiting materials and through the hiring process, Klotz said.

"Realistic portrayal of the job at hiring leads to lower future turnover among employees," he said. "You don't want to cover it up."

Klotz also suggested that those entering the workforce pay close attention to signals of a company's values during the recruiting process, on company visits and during interviews.

"Think about whether the values you are seeing align with your values," he said. "Some of these small things can play an important role in whether you are happy and satisfied in your job."
-end-


Oregon State University

Related Alcohol Articles from Brightsurf:

Alcohol use changed right after COVID-19 lockdown
One in four adults reported a change in alcohol use almost immediately after stay-at-home orders were issued: 14% reported drinking more alcohol and reported higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who did not drink and those whose use stayed the same.

Changes in hospitalizations for alcohol use disorder in US
Changes over nearly two decades in the rate of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths from alcohol use disorder in the US were examined in this study.

Associations of alcohol consumption, alcohol-induced passing out with risk of dementia
The risk of future dementia associated with overall alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced loss of consciousness in a population of current drinkers was examined in this observational study with more than 131,000 adults.

New alcohol genes uncovered
Do you have what is known as problematic alcohol use?

Does estrogen influence alcohol use disorder?
A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that high estrogen levels may make alcohol more rewarding to female mice.

Sobering new data on drinking and driving: 15% of US alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol under the legal limit
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, found that motor vehicle crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) below the legal limit of 0.08 percent accounted for 15% of alcohol-involved crash deaths in the United States.

Alcohol-induced deaths in US
National vital statistics data from 2000 to 2016 were used to examine how rates of alcohol-induced deaths (defined as those deaths due to alcohol consumption that could be avoided if alcohol weren't involved) have changed in the US and to compare the results by demographic groups including sex, race/ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status and geographic location.

Cuts in alcohol duty linked to 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England
Government cuts to alcohol taxes have had dramatic consequences for public health, including nearly 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England since 2012, according to new research from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).

Integrated stepped alcohol treatment for people in HIV care improves both HIV & alcohol outcomes
Increasing the intensity of treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) over time improves alcohol-related outcomes among people with HIV, according to new clinical research supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet:Targets to reduce harmful alcohol use are likely to be missed as global alcohol intake increases
Increasing rates of alcohol use suggest that the world is not on track to achieve targets against harmful alcohol use, according to a study of 189 countries' alcohol intake between 1990-2017 and estimated intake up to 2030, published in The Lancet.

Read More: Alcohol News and Alcohol Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.