Half of professionals aren’t attending their work Christmas party this year 

48% of professionals in the UK and Ireland are planning on missing their work’s Christmas party this year whilst 20% are going just to ‘show their face’, according to a new poll from Walters People.

The research has shown that many professionals are being deterred from the idea of a workplace Christmas party this year, with less time in the office, cost of living, and economic uncertainty all playing a role in employees’ decision-making. 

What has changed?

When asked about the reason behind them not wanting to attend their work Christmas party, the two most common responses from professionals were that it is ‘too much effort this year’(37%), and the personal costs associated with attending (33%).

Janine Blacksley, director of Walters People UK, said: “The Christmas or end-of-year party has always been an important diary entry in professionals calendar – in particular in the white-collar world where the end of the year is typically a period where the company is able to slow down or shut for a few days.

“This year, it feels there has been a tide-change on the end-of-year Christmas party being a festive calendar staple.

“Our poll results show that the main deterrents echo a fatigue in professionals to make the effort or foot the costs associated with attending their office party this Christmas; they’d rather spend on their own personal Christmas plans.”

A mixed bag for many

A further quarter stated another primary deterrent for attending their Christmas work party is that their employer is spending less on the actual event. In fact, when asked if their employer was holding a Christmas party this year, 59% stated they were either having smaller celebrations or none at all due to cost cuts.

Contrastingly, less than a third (32%) of professionals stated their workplace Christmas party was going to be a ‘big one’ this year.

Janine continued: “2023 has been a mixed bag for many companies so it isn’t surprising that festive celebrations this year will be very dependent on industry and employer.

“Whilst the majority are having pared down celebrations or none at all, a percentage are planning to push the boat out. 

“Whilst typically more money being spent often signifies that a company is doing well from a profit perspective, we are increasingly seeing organisations invest in their workplace culture – including Christmas parties – as an attraction and retention tactic.”

But what do professionals want this Christmas?

When asked what sort of Christmas party they’d prefer, 38% of professionals opted for ‘an open bar, party, Santa hats galore’, whilst an almost equal amount (32%) stated that ‘a simple lunch would suffice’. A further fifth wanted a relaxed affair, with less focus on alcohol.

Many keeping this festive period dry

The theme of not drinking seems to be a preoccupation for many professionals this year, with almost double the amount (39%) of professionals planning to ‘only stick to one or two festive tipples’ at their office celebrations, compared to just a fifth who are planning to go ‘all out’(22%). A further 31% are planning to ‘stay entirely tee-total.’

Gen-Z seem to leading the charge in lessening the dependence on alcohol in workplace socialising, and more generally, according to Drinkaware UK, however, 86% of employees in the private sector are still more likely to say there is an ‘expectation’ to drink at employer events than those who work in the public sector.

Janine said: “Our polls show a real change in attitudes towards how work Christmas parties could be carried out going forward and potentially a permanent shift in workplace culture where there is more focus on oneself rather than team building, and a bigger lens on wellbeing and balance rather than socialising. 

“Time will tell on whether this is a more fleeting change in light of what has been a globally economically difficult year.”

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