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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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