A quarter of businesses and organisations in the UK will not be throwing a Christmas party this year over concerns of inappropriate behaviour, according to the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM).

This is despite the survey of 2,000 employees finding that 66% see the office Christmas party as a valuable opportunity to building relationships with their colleagues. But managers have concerns over alcohol-fuelled behaviour. Over two thirds of respondents had seen colleagues drink too much, and 30% admitted they had personally struggled into work with a hangover the morning after. In total 80% of people had witnessed inappropriate behaviour at the staff Christmas party, including kissing a colleague (35%), shouting and aggression (30%) and rudeness (28%).

Done properly, the Christmas party can be a positive experience for everyone. One in four employees (26%) felt the Christmas party had positively impacted their career. Two thirds of workers say one of the key benefits of a Christmas party is to improve colleague relationships, and the same number value the opportunity to get to know each other.
Over half of office partygoers are expected to help cover the cost of festivities, with an average employee contribution of £23. Those employers who are holding a party this year will pay an average of £35 per head.

Kate Cooper, Head of Research and Policy at ILM, commented: “Our survey shows people really look forward to their Christmas parties, both as an opportunity to develop relationships with people across an organisation and to celebrate and look back on the past year. So much so that many employees happily contribute their own money to make sure they can have a celebration.

“Christmas parties are an important and eagerly anticipated reward for staff and an opportunity for employers to show how much you value them, so they are worth investing in. However there are many potential pitfalls, mostly associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Taking care to limit the amount of alcohol available and to communicate the rules of behaviour will help ensure parties are a cause for celebration and not a headache for all.”