Holiday parties aren’t the blowouts they used to be

Get ready for some extremely mid holiday parties—if your company is hosting one at all.
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· 3 min read

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It could be another sad holiday season for your party pants.

While more companies are throwing down at the end of 2022 than they did to close out 2020 or 2021, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a consultancy that has tracked corporate holiday party trends since 2004, reminds us that’s a very low bar. Just 56.9% of companies surveyed by the firm reported plans to host an in-person holiday gathering this year, the lowest percentage since 2009 (Covid years aside), according to a Challenger study shared with HR Brew via VP of PR Colleen Madden.

Not since the recession. Many of Corporate America’s leaders weren’t in a celebratory spirit in 2009, as they grappled with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Consulting firm Battalia Winston reported a decline in office parties in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Some 55% of US employers who reported not having a party in 2010 told the firm they thought such events were inappropriate for the economic times.

Is this recession-related, too? Maybe. Businesses in the hard-hit tech sector, which has laid off almost 143,000 workers so far this year, report being the least likely to host a gathering. Of the tech companies who told Challenger they will not have a party in 2022, 17% cited economic conditions as the driving factor. Many employers that will celebrate, including Meta and Google, will have more low-key events than in past years, Protocol reported.

But in other industries, particularly those still grappling with high resignation rates, hosting a holiday party could be part of HR’s talent strategy.

“Employers know their teams are battling burnout, may be on the verge of quiet quitting, or are leaving their positions altogether,” said Andrew Challenger, SVP of Challenger, in the report. He added, “The holiday party has always been a way for companies to show their teams they value them…it really is an important retention and leadership tool for employers.”

WYD? We asked HR Brew readers whether the economy has influenced their party plans. Some 36% of respondents said they are skipping or majorly downsizing holiday parties to save money, and 33% have never hosted in-person holiday parties to begin with. But 31% are planning celebrations to remember.—SV

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HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

News built to help HR pros grow their impact & improve the future of work.