Little holiday cheer for companies this year: Survey

Only 77 per cent of companies holding parties

As the economy continues to slump, many companies are entering the holiday season with tighter budgets and little reason to celebrate. As a result, fewer employers are planning holiday parties while others are slashing the party fund by as much as half, according to one new survey.

In its annual survey on holiday parties, Chicago-based outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray and Christmas found 77 per cent of 100 companies surveyed in the United States are planning holiday parties this year. That is down significantly from 2007, when 90 per cent of employers were planning holiday parties despite mounting evidence of an impending slowdown.

Further evidence of the economic slowdown’s impact on employers is seen in the fact that seven per cent of the companies surveyed typically hold holiday parties but were canceling them this year due to cost-cutting. In contrast, no company surveyed by Challenger in 2007 planned to cancel its holiday party.

Eighty-three per cent of survey respondents are spending the same amount on their parties this year. Only 4.3 per cent of companies are increasing their party budgets this year, and by an average of only 5 per cent, compared to 2007 when 38 per cent allocated an average of 16 per cent more for their parties. Among the 13 per cent planning to reduce party spending, the budget cuts averaged 53 per cent.

More than one-half of the employers holding parties are reportedly having it on a workday or near the end of a workday (57 per cent), while nearly two-thirds are inviting employees only (65 per cent). Fifty-six per cent are using a caterer or outside service compared to 69 per cent last year.

Despite this year’s focus on cost-containment, 65 per cent of companies still plan to hold their functions at an offsite venue and 48 per cent are planning on serving alcohol.

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