People Really, Really Don't Want A Company Holiday Party This Year

A new HuffPost/YouGov survey demonstrates how unpopular work parties are in 2020.
During the pandemic, it's time to break away from the tradition of company holiday parties and give employees what they actually want.
AleksandarNakic via Getty Images
During the pandemic, it's time to break away from the tradition of company holiday parties and give employees what they actually want.

’Tis the season for canceling or moving holiday parties online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In one recent poll of human resources representatives nationwide, only 23% said their company was going forward with an office holiday party, and, of those, three out of four parties will be virtual.

If you’re planning on going ahead with your company holiday party, you might want to rethink it, especially if you truly want to show appreciation to your staff for a long, hard year. What most employees want this year is cash — much, much more than they want a stilted Zoom gathering or a dangerous in-person event.

People just want money, our survey shows.

A new HuffPost/YouGov survey offers a nuanced look at what employees actually want from their employers for the holidays, if given the choice. A thousand registered voters in the U.S. were asked to pick what they would most like to receive from a short list of options.

Nearly 6 in 10 answered that the most welcome gift would be a cash bonus.

Voters were also asked how enthusiastic they would be about receiving each of the gift options. Three-quarters said they would be very enthusiastic about a cash bonus; 52% said the same about extra paid time off; 37% would be very enthusiastic about a gift card to a store or restaurant; and 22% felt similarly about the prospect of a physical present like a gadget or item of clothing.

Money was a unifying answer. This overwhelming preference for cash stayed the same regardless of respondents’ political party, race, gender, age, family income level, or geographic region.

But if you want to deflate staff morale, choose a holiday party, the option that received the least enthusiasm. Only 7% of survey respondents said that a holiday party, whether virtual or in-person, would be the gift they would be most thrilled to receive. Sixty-eight percent said they would not be enthusiastic to find out that a holiday party was this year’s gift from management.

However, younger people are slightly less hostile to the idea. Just 23% of those aged 18 to 29 said they’d be “not at all enthusiastic” about an invitation to a party, while twice as many respondents aged 30 and over said the same. But the reaction of those in the youngest age group is still lukewarm: Another 42% said they would be “not very enthusiastic” for a party.

While some companies are still moving forward with elaborate virtual parties filled with holiday background themes and custom music, these events are not necessary to win the support and appreciation of staff.

A little extra money will suffice.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Nov. 12-16 among U.S. registered voters, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate.

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