Office Holiday Parties Suffer From COVID-19

Of the few companies saying they will have a party this year, nearly three-fourths indicate the event will be virtual.

As with practically every other tradition this year, the coronavirus pandemic is affecting company holiday parties.

One year after nearly 76% of companies said they planned to hold holiday parties, just 23% of companies are planning a year-end celebration this year, according to a survey by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Nearly three-fourths (74%) of those will be virtual events.

Of the few companies that will hold in-person events, 4% reported they will modify the event as a result of the pandemic, with 100% of those mandating masks and social distancing. The survey also found 67% will limit the number of attendees, and 33% reported they will take temperatures of attendees and hold the event outside. Only 1.3% will hold an event in person without any precautions.

The majority of companies (54.6%) will not hold an event this year, the highest rate since Challenger began the survey in 2004. Of those, 44% of companies canceled plans specifically because of COVID-19. Another 5.3% report they are not having a party due to cost-cutting measures, while 4% report they never hold holiday parties.

The majority of respondents (55%) are keeping most of their staff working from home, and another 5.5% have all their workers working from home. More than half (52%) report business conditions are worse, while 14% report an improvement. Another 17% report mixed results from different business segments.

Nearly a quarter (22.7%) of companies said they were unsure whether they will host a party this year or were waiting for state and local guidance before making a decision.