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In-person office holiday parties are back: Survey

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December 7, 2022
By Talent Canada

The in-person office holiday party is back in style.

For the first time in years, the majority of employers are planning in-person holiday parties, according to new research from Challenger, Gray & Christmas that looked at plans by employers in the United States.

It found that 56.9 per cent of companies are planning in-person holiday parties this year, up from 26.6 per cent last year and just 5.3 per cent who had an in-person bash in 2020. The survey of 252 employers was conducted online in October and November.

That’s still down from pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, nearly 75 per cent of companies held a party, it said.


Virtual parties

The virtual holiday party isn’t dead yet. Almost two per cent of companies are planning virtual celebrations this year, but that’s down considerably from the peak of 17.3 per cent in 2020, it found.

And 5.6 per cent of respondents said they already held an in-person party this year, outdoors when the weather was warmer, and aren’t planning another get-together.

“Employers know their teams are battling burnout, may be on the verge of quiet quitting, or are leaving their positions all together,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice-president of Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“The holiday party has always been a way for companies to show their teams they value them. Creating a space for employees to have fun together bolsters morale and connection to their employers and their work, so it really is an important retention and leadership tool for employers.”

Companies ready to spend more

Some of the purse strings are loosening, with party budgets on the rise at 16 per cent of employers, it found. More than one-third (37 per cent) are maintaining their party budgets and six per cent are spending less.

The money is being spend to hire an outside vendor/caterer and serve alcohol —with more companies doing this post-pandemic than pre-pandemic, it found.

Hybrid workplaces

Challenger, Gray & Christmas said employers “may need to create this space to gather employees” because so many are working remotely.

The most recent data showed:

  • 17 per cent had all workers back in the office, down from 26 per cent who said this last year.
  • 45 per cent of employers said their staff are on a hybrid schedule.

COVID modifications

Only a handful (four per cent) of respondents said they are modifying their event because of COVID. Half of those companies were unsure what the modifications would be, while 30 per cent will encourage handwashing and hygiene and one-quarter will limit the number of attendees.

No one said they are planning to require masks or are planning to hold events outside.

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