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Susan M. Heathfield

Are You Holding an Office Party?

By December 3, 2012

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Nearly 83% of companies plan to hold an office party this year, up from 68% in 2011, according to an annual survey of human resources executives conducted by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. They found that this percentage of companies holding an office party, while up from last year, is short of the almost 90% who celebrated in 2007, pre-recession. 17% of surveyed companies plan to spend more on their parties this year.

Rick Cobb, executive vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas says, "With hiring still relatively weak, employers are basically asking existing workers to do more with less. Strong profits and rising productivity numbers suggest that workers are in fact delivering on that request. What better way to reward this hard work than with a holiday party?

"Holiday parties are a relatively low-cost morale builder. 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.

"The nice thing about holiday parties is that they do not have to be full-blown extravaganzas to be meaningful to employees. A small company on a tight budget can easily host a potluck lunch, where employees bring in a favorite dish to share with co-workers."

Additional findings include:

  • 55% of companies surveyed will hold their office party on company premises whereas 30% did last year, with the savings going toward improved food and planning costs.
  • 64% of companies will limit attendance at the office party to employees only.
  • 66% will use a caterer to make and serve the food at the office party.
  • 50% of the companies will serve alcohol at their office party.

Office Party Alternatives

Want to hold an office party but shy away from the traditional meal with dancing or entertainment? Or, do you want to schedule some added holiday events for employees this year? You can use these office party alternatives to supplement or replace your holiday traditions. Many are low cost and a lot of fun.

My company cancelled our holiday party tradition a few years ago and has opted to celebrate the company's birthday each February. This allows many more employees to attend with their significant others as there is much less competition for the evening. It has also created a unique and powerful tradition that employees love.

Last year, the party had a 1980s theme and the employees loved dressing up in the garb of the day. (Think Flashdance and smile.) For the holidays, we do many alternatives including ugly sweater day and Christmas Eve lunch for families at a local tavern.

Want to make sure that attending your office party enhances your career prospects? A serious office party blunder sends a horrible message to your boss and coworkers. Avoid these top 7 office party gaffes.

Image Copyright Tomaz Levstek

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