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December 2015

SHRM Says Fewer Are Hosting Holiday Parties for Employees This Year

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While a majority of organizations will toast their employees with a holiday or end-of-year party, a growing number of employers are saying no to a party. However, nearly one-quarter will give non-performance-related gifts to employees this year.

In a survey, the Society for Human Resource Management found that almost two-thirds (65 percent) of HR professionals said their organizations would host a party for all employees. But 30 percent of respondents said no party was planned at their organization, an increase of 13 percentage points from 2012.

"The outlook for holiday cheer is promising," said Evren Esen, director of survey programs at SHRM. "But for some organizations, parties are a thing of the past. They may have been cut initially because of tough financial times during the recession or because of other reasons. But the fact is that more organizations are saying they are not having parties than in the past."

Some party-goers will see larger spreads, as 45 percent of those planning a party have a budget larger than five years ago. Eighty-three percent of respondents indicated that they have a budget for their holiday party.

As for the merriment, 67 percent of respondents said their party would be off-site and 22 percent said they would close early that day (10 percentage points higher than in 2012). More than half (59 percent) said alcohol would be served at the party, and 46 percent said prizes would be given to random employees.

SHRM's survey of 385 randomly selected HR professionals also asked about holiday activities in the workplace.

More than half (55 percent) of respondents said their organization allowed employees to shop online during lunch breaks in preparation for the holidays, and 13 percent said personal online shopping was allowed as long as the employee was on schedule with his or her work. About a third (32 percent) said shopping online at work was a no-no.

The survey was conducted in October and has a margin of error of 5 percentage points. It also showed:

  • 82 percent of respondents said their organization would participate in charitable donations and drives, an increase from 74 percent in 2012.
  • 23 percent said their organizations would give non-performance-based gifts to all employees at the end of the year, a decrease from 32 percent in 2013.
  • About one-half of respondents said gift exchanges were planned at their organizations, with 43 percent conducting gift exchanges within departments, 7 percent company-wide, and 3 percent both within departments and company-wide.

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