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More companies planning holiday parties, survey says

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More companies seem to be in the holiday spirit this year.

Survey results released this week by Chicago-based employment consultancy Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc. show 83 percent of companies polled plan holiday parties this December.

That’s up from 68 percent last year, when firms were less confident about the economy, said Rick Cobb, Challenger’s executive vice president, and not far from the 90 percent which held them in pre-recession 2007.

For many companies, 2012 may feel like the first time in a while there is reason to celebrate, Cobb said.

Indeed, 10.3 percent of those surveyed said their company plans to host a holiday party after skipping festivities for at least a year.

“With hiring still relatively weak, employers are basically asking existing workers to do more with less,” Cobb said in a prepared statement. “Strong profits and rising productivity numbers suggest that workers are in fact delivering on that request. What better way to reward this hard work than with a holiday party.”

More than 80 percent of those that plan to host a party say they’ll spend the same amount as last year, while 17 percent say they’ll shell out more.

But holiday parties don’t have to be extravagant to be meaningful to employees, said Cobb, noting that a small company on a tight budget can easily host a potluck lunch in which employees provide most of the food.

Still, 63 percent said they plan to use a caterer or event planner, significantly up from 45 percent last year.

More companies, however, are celebrating on company premises. This year, 55 percent said they will stay on site, a sizable jump from the 30 percent which said they would last year.

What often generates the most debate is whether to serve alcohol. Nearly half of the companies surveyed, about the same as last year, said they plan to provide it.

And with that comes the yearly warning to employees to avoid embarrassing themselves.

“However, employees should not simply stand in the corner in an effort to stay off the radar,” Cobb said. “Make an effort to break away from your comfort zone and introduce yourself to those who might help your career.”

About 100 companies participated in the survey, Challenger said.
 

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  1. You are correct that Obamacare requires health insurance policies to include richer benefits and protects patients who get sick. That's what I was getting at when I wrote above, "That’s because Obamacare required insurers to take all customers, regardless of their health status, and also established a floor on how skimpy the benefits paid for by health plans could be." I think it's vital to know exactly how much the essential health benefits are costing over previous policies. Unless we know the cost of the law, we can't do a cost-benefit analysis. Taxes were raised in order to offset a 31% rise in health insurance premiums, an increase that paid for richer benefits. Are those richer benefits worth that much or not? That's the question we need to answer. This study at least gets us started on doing so.

  2. *5 employees per floor. Either way its ridiculous.

  3. Jim, thanks for always ready my stuff and providing thoughtful comments. I am sure that someone more familiar with research design and methods could take issue with Kowalski's study. I thought it was of considerable value, however, because so far we have been crediting Obamacare for all the gains in coverage and all price increases, neither of which is entirely fair. This is at least a rigorous attempt to sort things out. Maybe a quixotic attempt, but it's one of the first ones I've seen try to do it in a sophisticated way.

  4. In addition to rewriting history, the paper (or at least your summary of it) ignores that Obamacare policies now must provide "essential health benefits". Maybe Mr Wall has always been insured in a group plan but even group plans had holes you could drive a truck through, like the Colts defensive line last night. Individual plans were even worse. So, when you come up with a study that factors that in, let me know, otherwise the numbers are garbage.

  5. You guys are absolutely right: Cummins should build a massive 80-story high rise, and give each employee 5 floors. Or, I suppose they could always rent out the top floors if they wanted, since downtown office space is bursting at the seams (http://www.ibj.com/article?articleId=49481).

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