Employer Holiday Bonuses, Gift Giving, and Party Celebrations Are Up Over Last Year's Levels

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The apparent economic stabilization, following the downturn of 2008 and 2009, may be putting employers in a more expansive mood. Employers will be much more likely than they were last year to be giving their employees holiday gifts and bonuses and to sponsor end-of-year holiday parties and companywide celebrations. There will also be greater participation by companies in charitable activities. However, due to the fact that Christmas and New Year's day fall on a Saturday this year, employees will be far less likely than they have in the recent past to offer extended holiday leave.

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For more than two decades, BNA's Year-End Holiday Practices Survey has offered an annual snapshot of companies' plans for marking the year's end and recognizing employees' contributions with benefits like paid time off, special holiday work schedules, holiday parties and celebrations, employee gifts and bonuses, and holiday charity. This year's results are based on the responses of human resources executives representing 300 U.S. employers.

Employers will be more generous in providing holiday gifts and bonuses. Just over four in 10 employers (41 percent) will give employees some type of year-end gift or bonus this holiday season, up significantly from the historical low of 33 percent of employers who did so in 2009. This marks a reversal of a three-year decline in holiday gift giving.

There has been an upswing in sponsorship of year-end holiday parties and companywide celebrations. More than three in four employers (76 percent) will hold some sort of year-end holiday celebration in 2010, up 9 percentage points from the 10-year low 67 percent of employers who sponsored such events in 2009. The proportion of employers that will sponsor a companywide holiday party, where employees can all gather in a single location, has also increased 8 percentage-points from 50 percent in 2009 to 58 percent in 2010.

Employers will also be more generous than they were last year in allowing access to companywide parties to nonemployees. More than one-half of surveyed employers (52 percent) will open up their companywide holiday parties to spouses or other guests, compared with the 47 percent that did so in 2009. This nearly erases the 8-point decline from 2008 to 2009 in the proportion of employers that were willing to open up their year-end celebrations to spouses or guests of employees.  

Alcohol will be a widely available but less so than in previous years. Among employers offering year-end companywide parties, 58 percent will be serving alcoholic beverages to guests. While this is a sizeable majority, it is a 3 percentage-point decline in the availability of spirits since 2009 (61 percent) and a 7-point decline since 2008 (65 percent).

Organizations will be taking measures to limit excessive drinking and safeguard guests attending company parties. Out of concern for their employees, as well as concern for protecting themselves from legal liability, companies have adopted measures to monitor and limit excessive alcohol consumption at year-end celebrations. Nearly three quarters of employers (74 percent) will task bartenders with monitoring alcohol consumption. Other measures will include limiting times when alcohol is served (54 percent), offering taxi service for employees and guests (49 percent), providing discounted hotel rates to encourage overnight stays (24 percent), and appointing designated drivers (4 percent).

Most organizations will also sponsor or allow other types of year-end celebrations. Six in 10 employers (60 percent) will either sponsor or help to fund other year-end holiday celebrations or permit informal parties on company time. This figure is virtually unchanged from the proportion of employers that had these types of parties in 2009 and 2008.

Participation in charitable activities will increase this holiday season. Nearly two-thirds of employers (64 percent) will sponsor or participate in one or more charitable activities this holiday season, compared with the 59 percent of employers who made this commitment in 2009.

The holiday calendar in 2010 will conspire to produce much less generous paid holiday leave. With both Christmas and New Year's falling on a weekend this holiday season, employers will be much less likely than they have been in the past three years to provide extended holiday leave. Fewer than four in 10 employers (37 percent) will be scheduling three or more days of paid leave in the 2010 holiday season. By comparison, nearly six in 10 employers (58 percent) gave at least three days paid leave in 2009, with even more providing extended leave in 2008 (66 percent) and 2007 (63 percent).

Manufacturing establishments, as well as organizations with a smaller workforce tend to have more generous paid holiday leave.  Nearly six out of 10 manufacturing firms (58 percent) will provide at least three paid holidays during the Christmas and New Year's season, far higher than figures reported by nonmanufacturing organizations (28 percent) and nonbusiness establishments (31 percent). Among smaller employers (those with workforces of fewer than 1,000 employees), 38 percent will offer at least three days of paid leave this holiday season, compared with 31 percent of larger employers.

BNA is a leading publisher of print and electronic news and information for professionals in business and government. BNA produces more than 300 news services, including the highly respected Daily Labor Report and Daily Report for Executives. Visit BNA online at www.bna.com



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