The economy is booming but that isn’t spurring a rise in holiday parties this year. This may be the result of the #MeToo movement, which has highlighted sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, according to a survey released by consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
Only 65 percent of companies are holding a holiday celebration this year — the lowest percentage since 2009, the study reveals.
Nearly 27 percent of companies reported they never hold company parties, the highest since Challenger began the survey in 2004, while some 8 percent reported they are not holding a party this year for various reasons.
“The low number of corporate celebrations does not appear to be due to economic reasons. Companies are sitting on tax savings and generally report a thriving economy,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
In the survey, companies reported higher confidence in the economy than last year. Sixty-two percent of companies said the economy has improved over last year. That’s compared to 48 percent who reported improvement in 2017. Nearly 29 percent reported the economy is on par with last year.
“We have never seen so many companies report that they never have holiday parties,” he said. “The number could be due to several factors, including potential liability following the #MeToo movement.”
Of those companies that are having a party this year, nearly 58 percent reported they have addressed the #MeToo movement with their staff this year, 33 percent of which have addressed or will address this issue prior to the party.
“Other reasons for fewer holiday parties could include that a company’s workforce is primarily remote and it’s too difficult to gather for a holiday party, or perhaps companies are having parties at other times of the year. However, the fact that nearly 60 percent of companies that are having parties have real concerns about inappropriate behavior shows that HR departments nationwide are responding to this particular issue,” said Challenger.
“In some cases, that response may mean eliminating the holiday party,” he added.
The good news: if they get to have a company party, employees can expect a better party this year. Nearly a quarter of companies plan to increase the budget for the party, the highest since 2007, when 38 percent planned to budget more than the previous year.
The annual survey on holiday party plans was conducted in October and polled 150 human resources representatives across the country.
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