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Are Boozy Recruitment Lunches Endangered?

By March 23, 2017No Comments

The “long lunch” is an established phenomenon of the workplace particularly within the central business districts and professional services environments of our world.  The “long” aspect of the lunch also has nothing to do with the period of time spent eating, of course, more the amount of post-lunch alcoholic drinks that are imbibed when others have returned to their desks for the afternoon.

This is a phenomenon that has found a particularly special place in the heart of the recruitment industry too.  Many industries such as banking, insurance, law, where there’s sizable deals to be done, often find the beneficial effects of some lunchtime lubrication to hurry along the putting of pen to paper.  Recruitment, particularly at the more “Executive” end, fits squarely within this approach too of course.  The deals are often sizeable and the social interaction of a boozy lunch is a comfortable playground for the personalities of most successful recruiters.

One recruiter I know in Auckland, who is something of an expert in the art of long lunches, this week described his entire business development approach, and deal-closing tactics, as more-often-than-not involving alcohol and a “good bastard” approach. From the numbers of recruiters I saw out and about last Friday afternoon (disclaimer: it was St Patrick’s Day to be fair) I would suggest he isn’t alone in this approach.

Good news for Columbia’s long lunch practitioners came out this week after a law change means workers cannot be sacked for turning up to work (or back at work) drunk or even under the influence of drugs:

“…workers will avoid disciplinary measures if an employee is unable to show the ‘negative impact that the consumption of psychoactive substances has on the obligations of employees.'”

However, not such good news is that the City of London, long fabled as the spiritual home of a lunchtime pint (or two), is starting to head the other way.  Insurance market Lloyd’s last month announced a zero-tolerance ban on alcohol during working hours, much to the indignation of its workers.  However the article also includes a quote, that sounds identical to what most recruiters would say, from a Lloyd’s broker who claimed the ban only applied to back-office workers:

“It won’t make any difference to the market unless they include us, and that’s when we pack up and leave,” said one, who declined to give his name. “I’m sure the pub is where most deals get done. It should be up to the individual to know their own limits.”


Perhaps this is the beginning of a trend towards a more sober recruitment industry, but I for one would think that’s a shame. Common sense should prevail but recruiters also need to have this skill in their armoury too. Or maybe that’s just me and my “Gen X” ways. As the millennials start to move into the leadership positions in recruitment, and other professional services, it wouldn’t surprise me to see these practices be gradually regarded with increasing suspicion and cautiousness.

Anyway, there’s plenty of opportunities to prove me wrong in the week ahead! Rice Consulting is sponsoring the #WellyRecMeetUp next Wednesday, including the provision of a keg of Panhead APA, so I’m looking forward to catching up with the Wellington recruitment community there. Then the next day it’s back up to Auckland for the #RicePowWow – always a well-lubricated affair – and now we have a fridge full of Garage Project options too thanks to Generator.

Both events have a small number of places still left so clear your Wednesday or Thursday evenings and click on the links above to RSVP.  See you next week!

Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.