I'm paying for the Christmas party and I'll cry if I want to


They may be happy enough to wear a paper hat and pull a cracker or two, but for most managers Christmas is a time of worrying what all the corporate entertaining is costing and whether they will be on the receiving end of a lawsuit come the New Year.

A study by the Chartered Management Institute's has found most British managers view the festive period more with dread and foreboding than any sense of corporate bonhomie.

The survey of 468 managers concluded that seven out of 10 organisations still hold Christmas parties for their staff, slightly down on the near three quarters reported in a similar survey last year.

But this apparent festive cheer masked an array of negative feelings about Christmas celebrations in the workplace.

One in three of the managers polled expressing concern about disruption to work and a similar number (36 per cent) worried the party season had become too long.

Just over a third of employers make no financial contribution towards end-of-year celebrations, and a fifth said they spent £20 or less per head on the Christmas party.

Those in Wales were among the most generous (with 14 per cent spending more than £81 a head), but in the affluent South East of England this fell to a Scrooge-like 1 per cent.

Three out of 10 believed discrimination laws were having an impact on Christmas parties.

Of these, more than two thirds admitted they had thought twice before agreeing to holding parties and more than a quarter feared an increase in tribunals once Christmas was over.

Almost two-thirds also believed organisations would increasingly be forced to introduce codes of conduct outlining acceptable behaviour at work parties.

Many described the atmosphere at workplace parties as false, with more than four out of 10 describing it as "forced".

A fifth said they only went along out of a "sense of duty", with the implication being that attendance was essential for career development.

A small minority (a tenth) went as far as claiming that Christmas parties were a "waste of time".

Yet, despite these negative views, many managers also saw their Christmas parties as a good way to boost team morale and to thank staff for their hard work during the year.

They also conceded that the Christmas party was a good way to "let their hair down" and "meet people from across the organisation".

Jo Causon, CMI director of marketing and corporate affairs, said: "Although employers are fearful of the impact discrimination legislation may have, it is essential they take the time to thank staff for their efforts.

"Parties do not have to be extravagant, but a little thanks can go a long way in creating a better atmosphere in the workplace," she added.