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Live Office Holiday Celebrations Slowly Making a Comeback

December 16, 2021

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

For the second holiday season in the pandemic, U.S.-based employers are grappling with how to connect their employees for year-end celebrations. While 26.6% of companies are planning to hold an in-person holiday party, up from the 5.33% who reported they would last year, another 22% are still unsure what their plans will be this year, according to survey results released by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“There appears to be even more uncertainty surrounding company parties this year than last. Most companies simply canceled the event in 2020, likely hoping it would be a one-year issue. Now that we’re entering the second pandemic holiday season, companies want to celebrate and connect their teams, but are not quite sure how to do it,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Overall, 34.6% of companies will not hold an event this year, down from the 54.6% who said they were not holding any kind of event, even virtual, in 2020. Of those, 18% of companies canceled plans specifically due to COVID. Another 3% report they are not having a party due to cost cutting, while 10% report they never hold holiday parties.

Vaccines may be a reason for the comeback of in-person events, though companies are not mandating their workers receive their COVID vaccinations. In the November survey, 34% of respondents were awaiting enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule, while 25% reported they were mandating the vaccine across the board or only for workers to work in-person. This is up significantly from when Challenger first asked respondents this question in a March survey of 201 human resources executives, when just 3% reported mandates.

A recent ASE Poll of the Week found that 44% of responding EPTW readers are holding a live holiday party, 37.5% are not having a party at all, and 12.5% are hosting a virtual holiday celebration. The remaining 6.5% are offering a hybrid option. Here at ASE, we surveyed our employees and decided upon a virtual celebration. However you celebrate this year, ASE wishes you and your employees a very happy holiday season.

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