HR & Management

How popular was your Christmas party this year? Lessons for 2019

4 min read

21 December 2018

Reporter, Real Business

How did your Christmas party go this year? Do your employees actually enjoy them? And if not, what purpose do they really serve?

The news is out. Employees no longer enjoy Christmas parties. Or at least not as much as they once did.

This is according to statistics compiled by Perkbox, a leading employee benefits platform.

In their aptly named ‘The Most Generous Time of the Year’ study, Perkbox found that over one in four employees don’t enjoy their work Christmas party. But why?

According to the results, this Scrooge-like behaviour is down to employees not wanting to socialise with colleagues – as well as the fear of Christmas parties being “too cliquey”.

The findings also discovered that the main preferred alternative was a meal out. But not for the entire team. This is when things get interesting.

Some 23% of employees would prefer to socialise within their immediate teams when it comes to extra-curricular activities surrounding work.

“Whatever businesses choose to do, it is best organised as part of a year-long reward strategy that will help maintain good morale, staff retention and a sense of team.” – Chieu Cao, CMO and co-founder at Perkbox

Even more interesting is the fact that this isn’t a generational issue. All age groups said they would prefer a meal out with their direct team instead of an office-wide Christmas party.

Another major reason why Christmas parties are falling out of favour is because of the ‘forced fun’ element associated with these annual events.

 “The Christmas party is something employers rely on to reward staff for their hard work. However, the perk is creeping out of favour due to the social aspect.” – Chieu Cao, Perkbox

The subtext to this is that many employees feel like organised occasions such as Christmas parties resemble a top-down implementation from management.

There also seems to be a move away from boozy office occasions, with 7% of employees saying they would prefer a daytime activity.

This infers that employees are not enjoying the blurring of lines between work and play that boozy Christmas parties can create.

“It’s not all bad though, as the research shows there is still an appetite to have some kind of get-together during the Christmas period. Given that rewards and incentives tend to be most effective when tailored to individuals, businesses could look to give departments or teams a budget to allow them to choose what they want to do.” – Chieu Cao, Perkbox

Small businesses

So, for some, the boozy office-wide Christmas party evidently fills a number of employees with fear.

However, in small companies, where there is more cross-team collaboration, it can provide an opportunity to bond with, and thank everyone for all the hard work that was produced throughout the year.

Although larger companies can often feel like a series of self-contained office units, SMEs by-and-large don’t feel this way. With job roles being less stratified, employees usually have to work across teams to get things done.

For these kinds of businesses, an office party shouldn’t feel as intimidating.

How to celebrate next year

In order to decide what kind of Christmas party you want to be throwing for your employees next year, take a look at your office culture first.

Start by talking to HR, or other members of the team that can give you an insight into sentiment on the ground.

This way you’re offering the right kind of rewards that they’re likely to appreciate and be grateful for. It should make for a happier, loyal and more productive workforce.

So for next year, make your Christmas party a celebration rather than something that’s seen as an obligation.