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Holiday Parties, Version 2008

As the economy continues to slump, it becomes increasingly difficult to find some good news to report. But we did come up with one item: according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas’s annual Holiday Party Survey, 77% of companies are planning holiday parties this year. However, that’s a significant decrease from last year, when 90% of employers said they would host a holiday celebration.

As further evidence of the economic slowdown’s impact, 7% of the companies surveyed that typically hold holiday parties said they were canceling them this year due to cost-cutting. In contrast, no company surveyed by Challenger in 2007 planned to cancel its holiday party.

John A. Challenger, CEO of the global outplacement firm, says, “With a few notable exceptions, many companies had already abandoned the extravagant parties that were common during the dot.com boom of the late 1990s. Even as the economy expanded following the 2001 recession, increasing scrutiny from shareholders, analysts, and the media, compelled companies to hold more low-key affairs. Now, with the economy teetering on the edge of recession, plans are becoming even more subdued with a growing percentage of companies indicating that parties will be held during the workday and open only to employees.”

Some additional survey results:
  • 83% of respondents will spend the same amount on their parties this year as last year.

  • 57% of the employers holding parties plan to host them on a workday or near the end of a workday.

  • 65% are inviting employees only.

  • 65% plan to hold their functions at an offsite venue, despite this year’s focus on cost-containment.

  • 48% will serve alcohol.

“Even companies spending the same as last year will have to settle for less extravagant parties, thanks to higher costs for food, alcohol, and venues,” says Challenger. “However, many companies will find that holding a more low-key or low-budget party is better than canceling the party entirely. These year-end celebrations are an effective way of boosting employee morale, especially in tough economic times.”

One caveat to all who attend the office holiday party: keep the emphasis on the “office” instead of the “party.” Sure, you’ve worked hard and deserve to have a good time, but if you want to have a job the day after the party, you’ll stay sober and professional.

The Challenger Holiday Party Survey was conducted in October among approximately 100 human resource executives in a wide variety of industries nationwide.

For more information visit www.challengergray.com

About the Author(s)

Shari Lifland is Editorial Communications Manager for American Management Association.  She is editor of the eNewsletters "Moving Ahead," "Management Update," and "Administrative Excellence," and manages content for the Members-only section of AMA's Website.