More Than 3 In 4 Companies To Provide Workers With The Opportunity To Embarrass Themselves At A Holiday Party Per Annual Nationwide Survey

Nationwide Survey Sheds Light on Paid Days Off, Celebrations and Gifts in the Workplace 

Arlington, Va. (December 6, 2016) — Consuming too much alcohol.  Offending a colleague or supervisor.  Engaging in inappropriately flirtatious behavior. These are among the pitfalls of the office holiday party, which over three in four organizations will provide workers the opportunity to commit over the holidays, according to findings from Bloomberg BNA’s 37th annual nationwide survey of U.S. employers. Human resources professionals can obtain a complimentary copy of the survey by visiting

“The calendar is not the American worker’s friend this season, as there will be a sharp decline in paid days off with both holidays falling on the weekend,” said Molly Huie, Manager, Surveys and Reports, Bloomberg BNA. “Fortunately for employees, more than three in four companies will provide an opportunity to let loose and burn off some steam from the past year with a holiday party.”

A Not-So-Silent Night with Coworkers

Company-sponsored festivities are a mainstay. Over three out of four organizations (77 percent) will host some sort of holiday celebration such as a companywide event or department-level gathering. More than four in five smaller organizations (those under 1,000 employees) will sponsor a party (84 percent), compared to barely three in five (61 percent) larger enterprises.  

Alcohol is on the menu at over two-thirds of all celebrations – as are alcohol safeguards. Sixty-nine percent of company-sponsored celebrations will feature alcohol. Of those organizations serving alcoholic drinks, 81 percent will employ one or more safeguards to prevent excessive consumption. 

Spreading Cheer with Paid Time Off

Three or more paid holidays are slated for employees at less than one-half of organizations (46 percent). As is typically the case when Christmas and New Year’s fall on a weekend, the calendar will limit the number of paid days off compared to last year, when the holidays were on a Friday and 57 percent of employers provided three or more paid days off. Aside from the Mondays following Christmas and New Year’s, the days employers are most likely to provide as paid days off are the Fridays preceding Christmas (38 percent) and New Year’s (22 percent).  

As is typically the case, manufacturers and small businesses are the most generous with paid time off. Nearly seven out of ten (69 percent) manufacturers will provide three or more paid days off during the season, compared with 40 percent of nonmanufacturers and nonbusiness organizations.    

Punching the Holiday Clock

Three out of ten businesses (31 percent) will have at least a few employees on duty for one or both holidays. Those employees most likely to be at work on Christmas or New Year’s are public safety and security personnel (at 16 percent of employers) and service and maintenance workers (13 percent).  

Over four in five organizations (83 percent) will provide employees extra compensation for holiday work. Additional forms of payment include time-and-one-half pay (33 percent), double-time pay (22 percent), both extra pay and compensatory time (10 percent), and regular pay in addition to comp time (8 percent).  

Getting Something Extra in the Stocking

Year-end gifts and bonuses are slated for over two in five employees. Forty-one percent of employers will give gifts or bonuses to their workers. Approximately one-third of employers will award holiday bonuses while one in ten will provide merchandise, gift cards or gift certificates. 

Holiday gifts are modest for all employees. The median estimated expenditure per employee for gifts is $50 and the median cash award $500.  

Making Others’ Spirits Bright

Many businesses will support charitable endeavors.  Over three out of five organizations (63 percent) will sponsor community or charitable activities during the holidays.  Food drives and toy collections are the most popular types of programs, with both in place at over two in five companies, while three out of ten 10 employers will participate in “adoption” programs, through which toys, food or clothes are provided directly to local families.  

Bloomberg BNA has been tracking U.S. holiday employer practices since 1980 and this year’s survey is based on a survey of senior human resource and employee relations executives representing nearly 450 employers.  The survey was administered in September 2016 and respondents represent range of organizations across numerous industries.