December 12, 2013
The annual office Christmas party is typically viewed as an annual treat that recognises and rewards employees – but for nearly half of the population the events are a chore more associated with drunkenness and often regrettable romantic liaisons than bonding or motivation. In a poll by serviced office provider Business Environment, one in five (20%) find Christmas parties a chore, while one in ten (13.7%) wish there would be no Christmas parties at all. Although roughly a third of people (31.6%) reported that Christmas parties helped them bond with their colleagues, and slightly more than a quarter (27.3%) reported the events make them feel rewarded for hard work, 62.2% of respondents “would rather have the money”.
The average amount spent by companies was £183.40– although one in twenty respondents (6.5%) worked at firms who spent more than £1,000 per person, yet opinion was divided over whether the traditional shindigs have any positive effect. Nearly half (45.47%) felt that office parties were harmful, either because they were embarrassing (16.6%), because the parties distance them from colleagues rather than encouraging bonding (8.5%), because they find themselves resenting management for investing too little (9.9%), or because they feel the sole outcome of an office party is to give everyone a hangover the next day (10.5%).
David Saul, Managing Director of Business Environment, said: “Office parties have become an almost religious tradition, in that companies feel compelled to organise a booze-up each December without asking themselves why. However, our studies showed that a majority of employees would rather just be given their proportion of the budget in cash than turn up to the event itself. If this is the case, then why are we wasting these fortunes every year?”
Ten per cent of respondents from a poll of 1,500 people said their colleagues tended to get “extremely drunk, to the point of memory loss and vomiting” at the annual office bash. One in five people (20.7%) have kissed a colleague during a festive event.
David Saul said: “It’s not necessarily a problem that office parties are nearly as associated with romance as they are with team bonding – but there is a dark side to this. Of the pieces of anecdotal evidence offered by the survey’s respondents, roughly one in ten covered either unwanted advances or actual sexual harassment, showing that sometimes work and play don’t mix well.
“Employers should ask themselves whether an office party is worthwhile. Many people will be going drinking with their friends over the Christmas period, so is a further booze-up with colleagues always necessary? Instead, employers could concentrate on ways of making people feel valued – gifts, daytime meals, events which do not focus around alcohol; ideally events which encourage bonding but carry less risk of embarrassment and worse.”