Examining the Culture of the Company Holiday Party

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Raleigh, NC, November 18, 2013 – Company holiday parties can be a mixed bag: while some find them fun and rewarding, others may feel less than enthusiastic. Though combining work, social life, and high spirits can be a tricky endeavor, survey results say most companies are getting it right.

A survey administered by Public Policy Polling examined the culture of company holiday parties, reviewing event planning trends and gauging employee attitudes and behavior. Results say the majority of employers (71 percent) usually offer holiday parties, but a substantial 29 percent of employers don’t offer a holiday party at all.

Some companies use holiday parties to recognize employees and offer rewards for hard work. Survey results say 41 percent typically offer gifts or bonuses at the party. Fewer employers (31 percent) recognize employees with awards or certificates at the party.

Party guest lists are varied, with 40 percent extending invitations to employees only, while 28 percent of employers choose to make it a family affair. In spite of employer efforts to create an enjoyable event where employees can connect, the survey reveals that nearly a quarter of employees actually dread attending. Yet poll results indicate that most people who attend the party are there because they choose to be—the majority of employees surveyed report feeling no pressure or expectations regarding attendance.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it seems employers are getting the idea that alcohol and work don’t mix. In fact, a cautious 54 percent don’t serve alcohol at company parties at all. Alcohol or not, a large portion of holiday party invitations come with some strings attached—39 percent of employers utilize policies or rules to keep behavior and/or alcohol consumption in check. Without these policies, three in ten employees attending a holiday event where beverages are served say they don’t monitor their alcohol consumption. But this unbridled celebrating may come with a price—one in ten employees reported regretting something they said or did at their work holiday function.

“Holiday parties are intended to celebrate and support employees for their hard work, but employers need to keep in mind that safety and liability are legitimate concerns here,” says Dean Debnam, chief executive officer at Workplace Options. Debnam says “employers can encourage a good, yet safe time by making conservative choices about alcohol. It’s also important to set expectations for behavior by reminding employees that it is still a work function, where behavior is being observed.”

The national survey was conducted by the North Carolina firm of Public Policy Polling, November 1-4, 2013. The survey polled 573 working Americans and has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent. View complete poll results HERE.

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