Over the next few weeks, countless organizations in the US, Europe, and around the world will hold end-of-year holiday parties for their employees. While some employees are looking forward to the event, SHRM’s Dana Wilkie highlights a new survey from the staffing firm OfficeTeam that finds that only 36 percent of office workers describe their workplace holiday parties as entertaining, while 35 percent say they are no fun. Most describe their company’s events as fairly tame and not particularly extravagant, and only about a quarter of employees feel like attendance at them is obligatory.
Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, tells Wilkie that with careful planning, employers can endure that their holiday events feel like rewards rather than obligations to their employees:
Scheduling, for instance, can be a sticking point. For instance, many companies plan parties during weekend evenings in November and December, which can be a busy time for workers who may be shopping, decorating or attending personal holiday events. …
Consider making it clear that attendance at the party is voluntary. While some companies may expect their workers to show up, know that “there’s something about a mandatory party that can rub people the wrong way,” [John Challenger, CEO of Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas,] said.
While not as much of a potential risk for HR as Halloween costume parties, these end-of-year events can also be challenging, as everyone is familiar with the old trope of ill-advised workplace romances beginning over too much to drink at the holiday party. Especially today, with sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace receiving a long-overdue measure of public scrutiny, it’s important to make sure that holiday events don’t become vehicles for scandals and lawsuits, so it’s usually a good idea to limit the amount of alcohol (if any) served at these functions and communicate to employees that a party is no excuse for unprofessional behavior.