“Younger people now are much more career-focused, they don’t have lots of money to spend in bars”, says Morrison. Most, she says, have large loans to pay off following university degrees. The cost of living is higher, while salaries haven’t always kept pace for younger people.
“The younger people I meet see drinking as a drain on their productivity and their time,” she says.
The Office for National Statistics’ figures back this up: less than half (48%) of those aged 16 to 24 report drinking alcohol in the previous week, compared with 66% of those aged 45 to 64.
In Manchester’s young start-up scene, Josh Turner, the 26-year-old founder of ethical socks company Stand4 Socks, with seven employees, says, “soft drinks are on the rise… and I don’t see that as a bad thing. It’s the social element that is important… if it’s beers, lemonade or tap water, it doesn’t matter.” His team often do have beers on a Friday, but also bond over healthier fare, such as coconut water.
If the younger generation really are less obsessed with drinking than their predecessors – and millennials, born between 1980 and 1999, are predicted to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025 – then drinking cultures may yet become a lesser part of working life.
A spokesperson for Lloyds of London says it is too early to tell what impact its drinking ban has had internally. While "one or two people" were unhappy at the rule change, "for the vast majority of people here it didn’t actually impact that much on them, because that’s the way they were already working,” the spokesperson says, adding that younger people entering the workforce expect these sorts of policies.
But while boozy lunches, paid for on expenses, are becoming less frequent, that doesn’t mean the work-related drinking culture has disappeared. It’s just shifted. At the end of a long working day, says Payne, “in some professions, in some teams, there is an expectation that you appear in the pub.”
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