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December 09, 2008
Poll: Holiday Parties Feel the Pinch
About half of organizations who had holiday party plans report that those plans were impacted by the down economy, in a recent poll on HR.BLR.com and Compensation.BLR.com.

When asked “What impact has the economy had on your holiday party plans?,” 42 percent indicated that their organization needed to either “cut back on expenses” (28 percent) or “cancel the party” altogether (14 percent). Another 43 percent responded that the party “will go on as planned.” The remaining 15 percent indicated that their organization had no holiday party plans to begin with.

In a recent article appearing in BLR’s Best Practices in HR newsletter, Jim Alkon, group publisher of Agenda USA (www.agendaonline.com), producers of resource directories and live events for special-event and corporate-meeting planners, offered tips for stretching a holiday (or any) party budget:

  • Reach out to employees. If hosting a holiday party will be a struggle for your company this year, send out an employee survey explaining that you’re contemplating a party and asking how important the annual gathering is to them and how they would feel if you didn’t have a party. Employees might support a decision to cancel a holiday party if it means saving jobs, he says.
  • Understand the benefits. Keep in mind that a free meal for employees is not the only benefit of a holiday party. A party also provides an opportunity for employees from the same department to bond and for employees from different departments to meet, which can help boost productivity. Don’t worry about having to skimp a bit on location or food choices, Alkon says. “Putting people in a situation where they can network and reach out to people is more important than what you’re putting in their mouth.”
  • Identify your goal. If you decide to proceed with a party, “try to make sure you know why you’re doing this and whether you accomplish it,” Alkon says. Surveying employees before and after a holiday party will help you determine whether you attained the intended goal.
  • Wait for better rates. He says some corporate event planners are scheduling company parties for January, when rates are much more competitive.

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