No Humbug despite the crunch


Far from being the victim of cutbacks, Christmas parties remain on the agenda for many organisations across the South West. However, a survey published today reveals that employers in the region now prefer to spend their money on social causes and more personal ‘thank yous’ to staff.
The Chartered Management Institute’s annual ‘Christmas Outlook’ survey reveals that 72% of employers in the South West will host parties in 2008 – a figure that remains broadly consistent with last year (66%).  Yet in a sign that ‘budget bashes’ are dominating the festive season, just 12% in the region strongly agree with the idea that employees’ partners should be included. Perhaps surprisingly, given the current need to focus on customer retention, only 2 % plan to invite clients.
Asked to explain why they intended to party in the face of current financial difficulties, 68% in the South West pointed to the need to boost staff morale. However, the data does show that many employers believe extravagant parties are unnecessary. 51%, for example, suggest that ‘hosting expensive parties can have negative impact on reputation’.
The survey of managers and business leaders also reveals that 1 in 3 employers in the region will make no financial contribution to ‘office parties’, this year. Some (34%) have agreed to pay up to £40 per person.
According to the findings, employers across the South West are also adopting a more socially aware attitude in the run-up to Christmas. 14% now demonstrate their concern for the environment by sending e-Cards. Amongst those still reliant on traditional Greetings Cards, 34 % only buy cards supporting a specific charity. 49% also argue that ‘Christmas is an appropriate time to engage in CSR activity’.
It is clear from the Institute’s survey that employers in the region are refusing to allow the tighter economic circumstances stop them from showing appreciation to their colleagues. Asked how they say ‘thank you’, 25% of line managers admit to buying gifts for each member of their team, 43% actively encourage their teams to take time off (even though 43% intend to work themselves) and 19% give time off, without taking it out of their staff’s holiday entitlement.

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, said: “It should come as no surprise that employers are controlling Christmas budgets with tighter purse-strings this year. However, it is encouraging to see that responsible budget management is going hand-in-hand with an effort to thank staff for their efforts during the year and a determination to recognise hard work.”

Away from work, the survey also asked respondents to name the ‘must hear’ festive music. Among the favourites, this year, were Silent Night, Fairy Tale of New York (The Pogues) and Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.