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Will Skipping the Office Party Land You on the Naughty List?

Published Friday Nov 18, 2011

Will skipping the holiday party at work land you on the boss's "naughty list"? Not necessarily, according to a new OfficeTeam survey. More than six in 10 (61 percent) executives whose companies host holiday parties said there's no unwritten rule requiring employees to attend. But that doesn't mean staff should miss out on the merriment: Thirty-eight percent of respondents indicated that making an appearance is expected.    

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees.  

Managers whose companies host holiday celebrations were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statement, "It is an unwritten rule that employees should make an appearance at the holiday party." Their responses:





Don't know/no answer



*Respondents to this question included 856 senior managers whose companies host holiday celebrations.

Managers also were asked, "In which of the following ways does your company typically celebrate the holidays?" Their responses:

Off-site party


On-site party/luncheon


Office decorations


Informal gift exchange


Our company does not host holiday celebrations


*Respondents to this question included 1,013 senior managers. Multiple responses were allowed.

"Although many executives take a casual approach to holiday festivities and aren't concerned about attendance, some managers pay attention to who shows up," said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Office parties come in a variety of forms, but nearly all offer the opportunity to get to know colleagues and executives on a more personal level, which can make work a little more pleasant and productive year round."

OfficeTeam offers five tips for making the most of the company holiday party:

  1. Mix it up. Mingle with coworkers outside your usual circle.
  2. Work the room. Try not to monopolize anyone's time. Shorter chats allow you to meet more people.
  3. Limit shoptalk. Don't focus on business the whole time. Come with conversation starters in mind, such as people's holiday plans or New Year's resolutions.
  4. Don't be a grinch. Keep your discussions positive and upbeat. No one wants to listen to complaints. Avoid controversial topics such as politics, too.
  5. End on a high note. Show your appreciation to the host and others who worked on the event by thanking them in person or sending an email afterward. 
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