Companies are holding off hosting holiday parties this year — and it may be because of #MeToo concerns

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesAn activist holds a #MeToo sign during a news conference on a Title IX lawsuit outside the Department of Education.
  • While companies are feeling better about the economy, many aren’t hosting holiday parties because of concerns about #MeToo, according to a new survey.
  • Only 65% of companies surveyed say they’re holding a holiday bash this year – the lowest percentage since 2009.

While the economy is going strong, fewer companies are holding holiday parties this year. That’s because some executives are concerned about inappropriate conduct as highlighted by the #MeToo movement, according to a new survey released this week by staffing consultancy firm Challenger, Grey & Christmas, Inc.

Only 65% of companies say they’re going to hold a holiday celebration this year – the lowest level since the depths of the financial crisis in 2009, the survey shows.

“The low number of corporate celebrations does not appear to be due to economic reasons. Companies are sitting on tax savings and generally report a thriving economy,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president at Challenger, Grey & Christmas.

Rather, unease about holding holiday festivities stems from the potential for sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace behaviour, according to the firm.

In the survey, 58% of companies that are having a celebration this year reported they have talked about inappropriate behaviour with their staff.

“The fact that nearly 60% of companies that are having parties have real concerns about inappropriate behaviour shows that HR departments nationwide are responding to this particular issue,” Challenger said.

In addition, 27% of companies said they have never held a holiday party, the lowest percentage since Challenger first issued the survey.

“We have never seen so many companies report that they never have holiday parties. The number could be due to several factors, including potential liability following the #MeToo movement,” Challenger said.

Meanwhile, companies surveyed reported higher confidence in the economy compared to a year ago. The percentage of respondents who said they thought the economy had improved over last year rose to 62% from 48% in 2017.

The firm pointed out that another factor in the decline of corporate celebrations is probably the rise in the number of staff working remotely, which makes it harder for employees to convene for an office party.

The survey collected the opinions of 150 human resources executives in October.

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