Get the fruitcake! More holiday parties are planned by businesses

CHICAGO, ILL.
November 28, 2012 10:21am
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•  Nearly nine out of ten firms planning parties

•  “2012 probably feels like the first time in a while that there is reason to celebrate”


Strong corporate profits are giving companies plenty of reason to celebrate and that’s being shown in the number of firms spending money on holiday parties this year, according to a new survey.

More than 83 percent are planning year-end holiday parties this year, up from a Scrooge-like 68 percent in last year, according to the survey paid for by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

In its annual survey of human resources executives, Challenger not only found that more companies are hosting holiday parties, but 17 percent say more money is being budgeted for the festivities.

Despite the increase in holiday parties from a year ago, the percentage of companies holding year-end functions remains shy of a pre-recession 2007, when about 90 percent of companies surveyed held holiday festivities.

In the non-scientific survey of approximately 100 human resources professionals, 10.3 percent said their companies were holding a holiday party after one or more years without parties as a result of the economic downturn. The other 72.4 percent of respondents said their companies held year-end parties throughout the downturn.

“For many companies, 2012 probably feels like the first time in a while that there is reason to celebrate,” says Rick Cobb, executive vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“The economy and job market continued to make strides this year. While employment did not grow as fast as many had hoped, company profits did increase due to increased sales as well as cost-cutting initiatives. And, despite ongoing uncertainty related to fiscal cliffs and European debt crises, consumer and business confidence are on the rise,” says Mr. Cobb.

Holiday parties are a relatively low-cost morale builder, he says. “For smaller companies, the holiday party is simply an extension of a more family-like relationship that often exists between these employers and their employees,” says Mr. Cobb.

About 83 percent of those surveyed say their companies are planning to spend the same as last year on the holiday party. Perhaps in an effort to keep costs in check, 55 percent say holiday parties would be hosted on company premises. That is up from 30 percent who said parties would be on-site a year ago. However, the costs savings related to keeping the party in house appears to be going toward improved food and planning costs.

Nearly two out of three companies plan to use a caterer, event planner or other outside service to ensure a successful party. Last year, only 45 percent of companies relied on outside vendors. Additionally, nearly half of companies plan to serve alcohol and 36 percent will allow employees to bring a guest.

"For workers whose companies are holding parties this year, particularly those where alcohol is available, it is important to remember that there is a fine line between having fun and having too much fun. The economic recovery is still very fragile, so it is not the time to draw attention to oneself with embarrassing conduct at the holiday party,” notes Mr. Cobb.

“However, employees should not simply stand in the corner in an effort to stay off the radar. It is equally important to remember that these events also offer great opportunities, such as socializing with senior executives whom you do not interact with on a daily basis,” he says. “Make an effort to break away from your comfort zone and introduce yourself to those who might help your career.”


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