British bosses becoming Christmas party animals

Dec 12 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

British bosses are shrugging off their previously Scrooge-ish reputation when it comes to party and gift giving this Christmas, a survey of managers has suggested.

According to the Chartered Management Institute's annual Christmas Survey more managers are spending more on Christmas parties than in years past, and giving more generously in the form of cards, presents and charitable donations.

The poll of 639 managers showed that fewer than one in five managers believed Christmas celebrations were "a chore".

This was in sharp contrast to Christmas last year, when just 16 per cent felt they enjoyed the office festivities.

The number of organisations hosting end-of-year parties has climbed this year after a two-year dip.

At 74 per cent, work-based celebrations have risen above two-thirds for the first time since 2003.

A total of 67 per cent of organisations also contributed towards the cost of the celebrations this year, up from 59 per cent in 2004.

This year, three-quarters of managers said they would send a card to colleagues (compared with 52 per cent in 2004) and 18 per cent planned to exchange presents ( against 11 per cent last year).

More than half admitted they would give a card to their boss and one in four sent seasons greetings to suppliers.

One in three organisations donated money to charity at Christmas and most of those polled (78 per cent) believed Christmas had become too commercial.

Nearly half – 48 per cent – felt Christmas was a "time to let your hair down", with 70 per cent saying festivities boosted morale or were a chance to recognise hard work (51 per cent) and thank staff (63 per cent).

Just one in 10 strongly believed the party season had become too long.

A third of the managers participated in "Secret Santa" schemes, up from 21 per cent twelve months ago.

Most managers recognise this time of year as a chance to show appreciation for the hard work colleagues put in
But the generosity to colleagues and charities did not reach all areas – only 1 per cent of suppliers and 6 per cent of clients can expect to receive gifts this year.

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, said: "It's encouraging to report a sea-change in attitudes.

"For the past two years organisations have been giving Christmas the cold turkey treatment, but rather than bemoan disruption, most managers recognise this time of year as a chance to show appreciation for the hard work colleagues put in," she added.

Just 18 per cent claimed the office party caused problems with morning after absenteeism, down from 34 per cent last year.

A third actively encourage a relaxed atmosphere in the workplace, with almost half the managers questioned claiming to suggest colleagues take time off over Christmas.

One in five give time off without it counting as holiday entitlement.

The survey also showed that the UK's largest organisations were the least generous.

A total of 72 per cent made no financial contribution to staff parties, compared with 62 for small and 59 per cent for medium-sized organisations.

Managers in organisations employing 25 people or fewer were also more likely to encourage holidays, with 62 per cent claiming they actively suggest employees take time off at Christmas, compared with only 41 per cent of those employing 251 or more people.