As the year comes to an end, the one question constantly on employees' minds are - will there be a party?
According to a new survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, nearly 77.3% of companies planned to host holiday parties this year - just slightly lower than last year's 80%.
However, 11.3% revealed that they will not hold a party after having them in the past, up from 4% in 2016 and the highest percentage since 2010, when 24% of companies did not have parties.
Of those planning for a party, just over 15% saw a party budget cut, up from 10% in 2016. At the same time, fewer of these parties planned to serve alcohol, use caterers or other outside services, or invite guests of employees to attend.
In fact, only 48.7% of employers intended to serve alcohol this year, down from nearly 62% of company parties that offered alcohol service in 2016. Meanwhile, slightly more than a third (37.8%) of companies were prepared to invite spouses, partners, and friends to attend the company soiree this year, down from 42.9% in 2016.
When it comes to hiring caterers or event planners, just under 60% of survey respondents said their companies had plans for that, down from 66% last year. More companies also expected to keep the party on company premises - 32.4% this year compared to 28% last year.
Additionally, 51.4% of companies planned to hold the party during the workday - versus 47.6% last year.
Interestingly, with 48% of employers saying the economy is better than last year and 43% saying it is the same as last year, this slight scaling down does not appear to be due to diminished confidence in the economy; leading to speculation that the scaled-down fetes were due to fears of inappropriate conduct by employees during the party.
Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said: "It’s very possible the results we’re seeing are due to news reports of sexual harassment and assault at work.
"Employers are currently very wary of creating an environment where inappropriate contact between employees could occur. One way to create a safer environment is to limit the guest list, hold the party during the workday, and avoid serving alcohol.”
Challenger added that company parties should be a way for employers to celebrate the accomplishments of their workers and boost morale, not put anyone in an uncomfortable situation.
“The current climate thankfully supports victims of sexual misconduct. HR departments want to ensure workers have a safe and happy holiday season, not one marred by a disturbing workplace party experience,” Challenger said.
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