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Why Aussies are the Grinches of work Christmas parties

‘Tis the season to be jolly – but perhaps not at a work Christmas party.

Dec 18, 2023, updated Jan 31, 2024

Research by global hiring platform Indeed found 37 per cent of Australian employees “dread” the end-of-year festive events held by their workplaces.

Topping the list of reasons behind the lack of enthusiasm from workers are having to make small talk with colleagues, too much emphasis being placed on alcohol, and the fear of workers embarrassing themselves.

Inconvenience was also a major factor behind the lack of cheer.

About 1.2 million Australian workers believe their last work Christmas party was not inclusive of all employees.

Of those, more than a third said the event took place outside of standard work hours, some said it was not in a convenient or accessible location, and some took issue with having to spend their own money to attend.

Indeed workplace expert Lauren Anderson said the findings suggest that employers may need to re-evaluate the traditional end-of-year celebration if they want to avoid harming their overall workplace dynamic.

“Workplace Christmas parties are a great opportunity to get together with colleagues to celebrate the end of the work year, but our research suggests many Aussies feel a bit ‘bah-humbug’ about the more traditional boozy Christmas celebration format,” she said.

“Factors like location, food and drink options, and social dynamics have the potential to negatively influence Australians’ experience of the office Christmas party, which in turn can negatively impact employee engagement, team building, and overall company culture.”

More than 40 per cent of Australian workers wish they had more input in the planning of their company’s end-of-year celebrations.

“Workers have told us they want to be consulted in the plans for their company’s end-of-year celebration, therefore employers who make the effort to include them are going to benefit from greater attendance, engagement and happier staff,” Anderson said.

Overindulging in booze a big no-no

Three in five workers said drinking too much alcohol is one of the biggest don’ts at a Christmas party.

But two in five admitted to having drunk too much at an end-of-year event in the past, which may be why more than a third of Australian workers say they’ll abstain from alcohol at this year’s event, with women and younger workers leading the way.

Cutting down on alcohol consumption at work holiday events is likely a good idea, given loose inhibitions can lead to many behaviours that could come back to bite you the next day.

Just take former Sky News and 2GB broadcaster Chris Smith’s fall from grace as an example; the media personality lost his position at both outlets last year after his drunk antics reportedly reduced a colleague to tears at a Sky News Christmas party.

With Indeed research showing many Australians count arguing or getting too affectionate with colleagues as big no-no’s for end-of-year events – and some admitting to the behaviour in the past – saying no to a glass of champers may prove to be the best course of action.

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