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Workplace Holiday Parties Still a Go Despite Economy

work-party-11112402 Credit: Dreamstime.com

Despite a down economy, new research shows the majority of companies still will be celebrating this holiday season. Conducted by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the survey found that nearly 70 percent of companies still plan to hold holiday parties this year.

That number is about the same as last year, but remains well short of a pre-recession 2007, when about 90 percent of surveyed companies held holiday festivities, according to the study.

John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said despite the less-than-ideal economic conditions, the majority of companies refuse to abandon the year-end holiday party as they look for ways to reward their employees .

"For many employers, the holiday party is a way to demonstrate appreciation for employees’ hard work throughout the year," Challenger said, adding that others see it as 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."

According to the survey of human resources professionals, 95 percent of companies that are holding partie s plan to spend about the same as they did last year.

"The nice thing about holiday parties is that they do not have to be full- blown extravaganzas to be meaningful to employees," Challenger said. "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."

Only 30 percent of the surveyed businesses will be holding their parties in the workplace this year – a drop from pervious years, when the majority did so. Sixty percent of companies, though, are limiting attendance at the festivities to employees only and more than half are holding the party during the workday or near the end of the day.

Challenger said he was most surprised by the survey's finding that about half of the companies holding parties this holiday season will be serving alcohol.

"In addition to the added cost, serving alcohol adds a level of risk that most companies should strive to avoid," Challenger said. "However, despite the increased cost and risk of including alcohol, many companies still embrace it as part of the festive atmosphere."

The research was based on surveys of 100 human relations professionals.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.