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Scrooge Alive and Well in UK Plc


A ‘Scrooge mentality’ has emerged throughout the UK, with many organisations placing restrictions on festive celebrations.

Although the majority of employers do host a party, the Chartered Management Institute’s annual ‘Christmas Outlook’ survey shows that they resent the outlay and fear repercussions from excessive celebrating.

The survey of 468 managers shows that 72% of organisations hold Christmas parties for their staff – slightly down on 74%, last year. However, this apparent demonstration of thanks hides negative feelings about Christmas celebrations in the workplace, with 1 in 3 managers expressing concern about disruption to work and 36% suggesting the party season has become too long.

Key findings, from the research, include:

- Holding back the hand of goodwill: 34% of organisations make no financial contribution towards end-of-year celebrations and 20% spend £20 or less per head for the Christmas party. Those in Wales are amongst the most generous with 14% spending over £81 per head, compared to 1% in the South East.

- Fear factor: 31% believe discrimination laws will have an impact on Christmas parties. Of these respondents, 68% are thinking twice before agreeing to holding parties and 26% fear an increase in tribunals. Almost two-thirds (64%) also believe organisations will be forced to introduce codes of conduct, outlining acceptable behaviour at work parties.

- Faking the fun: many respondents suggest that the atmosphere at workplace parties is false, with 44% describing it as ‘forced’. 1 in 5 say they only go out of a ‘sense of duty’ – with the implication being that attendance is essential for career development. A small minority (1 in 10) go as far as claiming Christmas parties are a ‘waste of time’.

However, despite these negative views, many managers suggest Christmas parties are a good way to boost team morale (70%) and thank staff for their contributions during the year (78%). 41% of respondents agreed, claiming that they used the Christmas party to ‘let their hair down’ and ‘meet people from across the organisation (66%).

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs, at the Chartered Management Institute, says: “Although employers are fearful of the impact discrimination legislation may have, it is essential they take the time to thank staff for their efforts. Parties do not have to be extravagant, but a little thanks can go a long way in creating a better atmosphere in the workplace.”

Away from work, the survey also asked respondents to name the festive music they dreaded most and the ‘must see film’. Although a minority claimed they did not dislike any festive music, 17% said named Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’, 11% identified Cliff Richard’s songs, especially ‘Mistletoe and Wine’, and 1 in 10 cited ‘Jingle Bells’ as their most hated Christmas song. The most popular films to relax to this holiday season were named as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, ‘Casino Royale’, ‘White Christmas’ and ‘The Snowman’.

Across the UK, the Institute’s research shows that organisations in London (84%) and the South-West (80%) are more likely to be holding Christmas events. Only 58% of Scottish organisations will be having an end-of year party, but the lowest was East Anglia (57%).


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