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9th November 2011

The State of Holiday Office Parties In An Economic Downturn

hrpa canadaMany Canadian organizations continue to face tough budget considerations and holiday celebrations may be a casualty at some workplaces this year. A new survey commissioned by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) reveals that nearly four-in-ten (39 per cent) of respondents aren’t having a party this year. But of those who typically do have a celebration, half (56 per cent) said they would be understanding if they found out that spending for this year’s office holiday party was being scaled back or cancelled altogether due to economic concerns.

“Whether this year has been good or bad for your organization, the holidays are a key time for recognizing hard work and thanking employees for a job well done,” said Claude Balthazard, vice president, regulatory affairs and registrar, HRPA. “But that doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of a lavish party. It’s the thought that counts.”

Quebecers are most likely to continue the time-honoured office party tradition, with two-thirds of respondents (64 per cent) indicating they are having one this year, compared to a lower likelihood of workplace parties in Ontario, Alberta and the Atlantic region (56, 50, and 47 per cent respectively).

Younger Workers Say – Don’t Mess with the Holiday Party

But not everyone is quite as understanding if cutbacks are in the forecast.

  • One-in-five (19 per cent) said they would be disappointed—a holiday party is a tradition and something everyone looks forward to year-round. Those under the age of 24 are more likely to be let down.
  • Four per cent of respondents would be angry—perhaps the boss should take a pay cut instead.

HR Professional – A Not-so-Secret Santa

The holiday party may not be in jeopardy if you have an HR professional at your workplace.  According to a Pulse Survey of HR professionals polled by HRPA and the Canadian HR Reporter, only six per cent of HR respondents said they weren’t expecting a party this year. The majority of HR professionals (81 per cent) believe that a holiday celebration is important to the morale of an organization and four-in-ten (43 per cent) would be disappointed if the party was scaled back or cancelled back due to cost cutting.

“HR plays a significant role in the morale of the organization and a holiday party is one way to strengthen the team dynamics,” says Balthazard. “If your organization isn’t able to have a party this year, perhaps you could consider planning something that is less costly which would still engage employees. Be clear about the reasons why the company is not holding a party and ask for their feedback/involvement with planning.”

The most popular tips from HR professionals for hosting in tough economic times include:

  • Shop around for less expensive venues and entertainment. Instead of a sit-down dinner with a live band, consider a cocktail reception with a DJ.
  • Get creative with your office space and host your party on company premises. Onsite events cut down on travel and rental costs.
  • Downsize your guest list by inviting employees only. Staff-only functions are a great way for employees that don’t typically work together to meet each other.

Bring the Workplace Together – Inclusiveness during the Holidays

Beyond just company morale, eight-in-ten (79 per cent) believe that HR plays a significant role in ensuring inclusiveness in the workplace during holidays.

  • Two thirds (64 per cent) agree that holiday celebrations should be more inclusive; however three-in-ten (31 per cent) of workplaces are already acknowledging holidays from different cultures/faiths.
  • Nearly half (47 per cent) of organization’s holiday celebrations have changed to be more inclusive over the past 10 years.

The top three tips from HR professionals for how workplaces can be more inclusive as part of holiday celebrations:

  • Decorate the office in a winter theme instead of specific holiday décor.
  • Throw a snowflake party—host a holiday party that celebrates the winter season.
  • Open a cultural dialogue, inviting employees from different cultures/faiths to discuss how they celebrate the holiday season.

“A holiday party doesn’t have to be jingle bells and eggnog. As the Canadian workplace changes in both its cultural and economic make-up and how holidays are celebrated, the festivities can morph to meet all budgets and all cultures,” says Balthazard. “HR professionals believe that holiday parties have a place in today’s organizations to build company morale, and shape a larger discussion around inclusiveness in the workplace.”

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 at 8:14 am and is filed under Business News, National News, Research Studies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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