More Christmas parties planned to raise employee morale, finds survey

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15 per cent of organisations are using parties more than they were 12 months ago in spite of current economic uncertainty, according to a nationwide survey by Reed.

More than one in six are using Christmas parties more this year than last to help motivate people, according to Reed's research amongst nearly 200 organisations, as employers make raising staff morale a higher priority. Christmas parties are seen as more important to staff than other incentives such as gym membership and empowerment schemes. While 74 per cent of organisations say their party plans are unchanged from last year, only 2% said they were using parties less.

While there is an increase across all sectors, organized Christmas parties are predicted to grow most in the retail industry, with a quarter of all retail organisations planning to use them more as a motivational tool. Interestingly, Public Sector organisations come second, with one in five increasing Christmas parties.

Using parties more might mean spending less, according to Reed's research. The most morale-boosting social events are about improving personal relationships, not big budgets.

The best parties "include staff and partners", or are specifically designed to cut across hierarchies and departments, the study found. One, for instance "enabled all staff, including managers and directors, to be able to relax and chat on an informal basis and get to know production staff better."

Spending too much can even de-motivate people in the current climate. One IT Manager from London cited "throwing a Christmas party while at the same time cutting salaries" as an insulting way to treat staff. The way a party is organised also influences its success. Parties backfire if they are seen as "compulsory", planned by Committees which "seem to note absences rather than encourage attendance", or consist of "people who don't get on forced into spending time together".

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