More Companies to Hold Holiday Parties

New York — Nov. 25

More companies will return to their tradition of holding holiday parties this year, according to the 25th annual survey of corporate America’s holiday party plans conducted by Battalia Winston, a global executive search firm.

Ninety-six percent of the companies polled will have parties this year — the highest percentage since 1997 — up from 91 percent in 2012, 74 percent in 2011, 79 percent in 2010, 81 percent in 2009 and 81 percent in 2008.

Holiday parties were held by 95 percent of companies in 1988, the first year of the survey, and an all-time high of 97 percent was recorded in 1996 and 1997, all years when the economy was robust.

“Our findings reflect an increasing confidence in the economy, although only 6 percent of those having parties are having more lavish events,” said Dale Winston, Battalia Winston’s chairwoman and CEO. “The parties are back but the champagne and caviar are no longer flowing.”

2013 survey findings:

2014 Planning: As companies make plans for 2014, almost three quarters (70 percent) of respondents say they’re on track to “grow and hire” next year — up from 66 percent in 2012. Less than a fifth (18 percent) expect their company’s performance will stay the same as 2013. Only 6 percent are uncertain and 6 percent are planning to consolidate.

What’s the reason this season? Nearly half (42 percent) are having holiday parties to boost employee morale, while slightly more than a third (38 percent) are holding a party to celebrate 2013 as a good year, and 7 percent to show employees and clients that they are optimistic about next year. Sixteen percent of companies selected “other” and indicated that they would be staying true to “tradition,” for the obvious reason of simply “celebrating the holidays,” and some even said because they “persevered.”

Why no celebration? Of the 4 percent of companies not holding a holiday party this year, half said it’s just not in the budget this year and the other half said that they felt it was “politically inappropriate.”

Who’s invited? A majority (76 percent) of the parties will be for employees only, while 18 percent will be held for both employees and their families.

The budget: A majority of the companies (83 percent) said their party will be the same as previous years, 10 percent will be more modest and 7 percent will be more lavish.

When and where? Of the companies holding parties, slightly less than half (43 percent) will be held in the evening and 47 percent will be at lunch. The trend toward daytime parties continues.

Drink up — if you can: Drinks will be served at most (72 percent) parties, but some are staying dry (28 percent) and will be alcohol-free.

‘Tis the season to be generous: Slightly more than half (54 percent) of the companies are donating money or goods (up from 51 percent last year, 39 percent in 2011, 47 percent in 2010 and 66 percent in 2009), and employees at 15 percent of the firms will be doing volunteer work. Twenty-three percent of the companies aren’t involved in holiday charitable activities.

Employee morale is still important: A majority (66 percent) of companies are taking steps to boost employee morale for the year to come (e.g. flexible work schedules, performance incentives, pay raises, team building/training, etc.), leaving only 17 percent of companies that have no such plans. Seventeen percent were unsure.

Source: Battalia Winston