Largest Decline Recorded in Corporate Holiday Parties, According to Amrop Battalia Winston’s 22nd Annual Survey

The Theme of the Party This Year? Modesty and Employees Only

New York, NY – November 15, 2010 – The worst holiday party slump in the past 22 years has been recorded in 2010, with only 79 percent of businesses conducting some type of holiday celebration, according to the annual survey conducted by Amrop Battalia WinstoneverH, a leading global executive search firm.  This is down from 81 percent in both 2009 and 2008, when the U.S. was in the midst of a recession – and previously represented the lowest number of companies holding holiday parties over the survey’s tenure.  For those companies holding celebrations just over a quarter (28 percent) say their parties will be more modest; this is on the heels of the nearly half (49 percent) who downsized in 2009.  When it comes to more expensive celebrations, 11 percent of respondents intend to hold more lavish parties, which is up from just one percent in 2009 and two percent in 2008. Leaving 61 percent who said their parties will be at the same level as past years.

Celebrations this year will not be for client or prospect schmoozing. Only five percent of those holding parties intend to invite clients and friends.  Over two-thirds (69 percent) will be “employee only,” and a quarter (26 percent) of organizations intend to invite employees and their families to gatherings. This is up from 2006, when only 52 percent of respondents held parties only for employees.

The primary reason cited by respondents not holding a holiday party is not related to budget concerns, but instead to their economic outlook.  Over half (55 percent) of respondents not having a party do not think it is appropriate in these economic times, compared to 27 percent who cite that a holiday party just is not within their budget.  Conversely, the majority (37 percent) of those having a holiday party cite “to celebrate we had a good 2010” as the primary reason, followed closely by “to boost employee morale” (33 percent) and “to show clients/employees that our company is optimistic about 2011” (29 percent).  This is in contrary to previous years; in 2005, 96 percent of companies had the party as a morale builder to staff.

“The Amrop Battalia Winston survey has served as a bellwether for the economy over the past 22 years, and this year is no exception. Between last year and this year; if parties become any more modest there will not be any parties; you can only downsize so far,” said Amrop Battalia Winston CEO, Dale Winston. “There remains a deep divide in organizations’ economic outlook and how they perceive their 2010 performance accordingly.  Fundamentally, those having holiday parties this year are much more optimistic about the year-ahead, while those not having parties are more pessimistic.  While we have seen the lowest number of holiday parties in the survey’s history this year, we anticipate that this is merely a ‘blip on the radar’ and there will be a stronger showing this time next year as the U.S. economy gets a stronger foothold in the recovery.”

These findings are from Amrop Battalia Winston’s Annual Survey on Corporate Holiday Celebrations, a cross-section of 103 of America’s leading businesses.  The telephone survey has served as an economic barometer for American businesses since 1989.  Other interesting findings from this year’s survey:

Charities lose out big this season: Company involvement in charity events (donating money, food, clothing, gifts and/or volunteering) will be down significantly this holiday season.  Less than half (47 percent) of companies will be donating to charities this year (down from 66 percent in 2009, and 74 percent in 2008).  Of those participating, the vast majority (79 percent) will be donating funds or items, while only 13 percent will be doing other charitable acts or volunteering time (8 percent).

Companies not skimping on cocktails: While the number of companies serving alcohol increased this year (79 percent), which is up from 73 percent in 2009 and 71 percent in 2008 – it is significantly below the survey high of 90 percent in 2000.

After hours parties increase in popularity: Of those conducting holiday celebrations, 57 percent will be evening affairs, compared to 43 percent taking place at a luncheon (compared to 53 percent and 47 percent respectively in 2009).

Getting out of the office: Over three-quarters (77 percent) of companies will be hosting their parties off-site (up from 67 percent last year) and the remaining 23 percent will be hosting their parties in-office.  Three-quarters (76 percent) of those companies holding a party “off-site” will be at a restaurant.

Increased focus on employee morale: The good news is that well over half (58 percent) of all respondents intend to take action to boost employee morale in 2011 – nearly double the number from 2009 (30 percent).   Of those that are planning to boost employee morale – the majority of companies polled (31 percent) intend to offer “pay raises,” followed by team building/training (19 percent) and flexible work schedules (18 percent).  Only 12 percent have nothing “specific” planned.

2011 planning: As companies make plans for 2011, over half (55 percent) of respondents say they are on track to “grow and hire” next year, and nearly one-third (32 percent) expect their company’s performance will stay the same as 2010. Only 13 percent ‘plan to consolidate’ or don’t anticipate that they will perform as well as this year.

About Amrop Battalia Winston

Amrop Battalia Winston , the U.S. member firm of the Amrop group, has been successfully meeting client needs in executive recruitment for over 45 years and is currently ranked as one of the 12 largest executive search firms in the USA.  Headquartered in New York, Amrop Battalia Winston also has offices in New Jersey, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Silicon Valley.  The firm offers a global presence through its membership in Amrop, the largest network of independent search firms in the world with a search force of over 307 senior consultants based in 90 offices over five continents and 55 countries.

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