Employer Holiday Trends Study

In November 2017, HRS reached out to 4200+ savvy legally conscious U.S. nationwide employers, and we send hearty thanks to our study participants. We proudly continue to hold top Google search ranking in this space. Here are a few highlights of study findings:

Since 2015, 52% of respondents have taken further measure to limit or eliminate company-sponsored alcohol at Holiday gatherings. 

While 100% tell us participation is optional, continued studies tell us that employees still feel pressured to participate. After-hours events continue to show declining participation and/or declining employee appreciation.

96% tell us celebrations do not reference Christmas or any specific religious Holiday. Religious reference has been replaced with labels such as "Winter Gathering," "Happy Holidays" or "December Celebration." The most common decoration theme in the U.S. remains Christmas. 

27% of today's respondents are encouraging employee participation in planning, while 73% have indicated a limitation or abandonment of employee involvement. We recognize that unlimited employee involvement can become a breeding ground for unlawful harassment and stress upon morale. 

Employers with multiple locations and subcultures are trending to design celebrations at location level.

Those serving alcohol are typically limiting to 2 drinks/tickets per person and/or offering company-paid transportation, including Uber, Lyft and designated drivers. BAC tests are growing more popular as reasonable care when alcohol is electively served despite employer liabilities. 

Dawn Kraft of VJS Construction Services tells us of their planned evening of sit-down dinner, Comedy Sportz and DJ to "cap off the night." Hotel rooms are reserved with substantial precautions in place to avoid driving under the influence.

Visit SHRM's study for Holiday Schedule findings. Meanwhile, HRS reports a strong trend of floating holidays (lower case "h") to flexibly accommodate Christmas Eve and/or any other religious observance, especially influenced by the day of week upon which Holidays fall and the closures of clients/community. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and all bona fide religious practices are thereby observed. 

Recap of 2015 Findings...

100% of respondents were staging some sort of Holiday celebration. It stands to reason that those not celebrating were among the few who declined participation. 

The vast majority were specifically limiting alcohol, including those who serve alcohol in line of business. The remaining are taking other measures to reduce liability, while still accepting some risk.

Christmas trees remain popular with the majority of respondents; however, specific religious reference (other than the tree itself) continues to disappear with many. 

68% of respondents were formally inviting employees to participate in Holiday planning. Formal committees are growing in popularity, as employers continue to shift toward regular year-round events, especially events during business hours. 

Changes since 2014 reflect tendency to 1) take pressure off of Religious affiliation, 2) balance work and personal life, 3) avoid ostentatious spending and 4) align with corporate culture and employer brand. 

Tangled light challenges, BINGO, themed days, decorating and charitable events remain popular Holiday season practices.  

Sharon Alvord, Director of Human Resources for Trans International LLC in Menomonee Falls WI, tells us about her organization’s lively “Where’s the Pickle?” game involving a constantly rehidden tree ornament.  Chris Boettcher, General Manager/COO of San Francisco area’s Burlingame Country Club, tells us about a planned facility swap with another area club. Tony Hannan, CEO of Burger & Beer Joint with South Beach FL headquarters, tells us he’s seeing a variety of programs emerging, autonomously planned at newly franchised locations.  

“Alcohol is the root issue of a lot of different legal claims,” said Nicholas J. Pappas, a partner in the employment litigation practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York City. 

65 percent of HR professionals surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management said their company would be hosting a Holiday party in 2015, and 59 percent will be serving alcoholic drinks at this year’s Holiday functions. 

Visit HR Advisor's survey for 2015-2016 trends. 

Contact HRS for trends and compliance tips toward great employee event planning, or simply to tell us what your company is doing!