‘Season of goodwill' - more myth than reality in health sector

A ‘Scrooge mentality’ has emerged throughout the UK health sector, with many organisations placing restrictions on festive celebrations.  Although the majority of employers do host a party, the Chartered Management Institute’s annual ‘Christmas Outlook’ survey shows that they resent the outlay and fear repercussions from excessive celebrating.

The survey of 468 managers shows that 70 per cent of organisations in the health sector hold Christmas parties for their staff.  However, this apparent demonstration of thanks hides negative feelings about Christmas celebrations in the workplace, with 1 in 4 managers in the health sector expressing concern about disruption to work and 40 per cent suggesting the party season has become too long. 

Key findings, from the research, include:

  • Holding back the hand of goodwill:  46 per cent of organisations in the health sector make no financial contribution towards end-of-year celebrations and 22 per cent spend £20 or less per head for the Christmas party.  Those in construction are amongst the most generous with 13 per cent spending over £81 per head, compared to 1 per cent in local government.
  • Fear factor: 22 per cent believe discrimination laws will have an impact on Christmas parties.  Of these respondents, 68 per cent are thinking twice before agreeing to holding parties and 26 per cent fear an increase in tribunals.  Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) also believe organisations will be forced to introduce codes of conduct, outlining acceptable behaviour at work parties.
  • Faking the fun: many respondents suggest that the atmosphere at workplace parties is false, with 44 per cent in the health sector describing it as ‘forced’.  11 per cent say they only go out of a ‘sense of duty’ – with the implication being that attendance is essential for career development.  Some (1 in 10) go as far as claiming Christmas parties are a ‘waste of time’.

However, despite these negative views, many managers in the sector suggest Christmas parties are a good way to boost team morale (65 per cent) and thank staff for their contributions during the year (62 per cent).  54 per cent of respondents agreed, claiming that they used the Christmas party to ‘let their hair down’ and ‘meet people from across the organisation’ (71 per cent).

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs, at the Chartered Management Institute, says: “Although employers are fearful of the impact discrimination legislation may have, it is essential they take the time to thank staff for their efforts.  Parties do not have to be extravagant, but a little thanks can go a long way in creating a better atmosphere in the workplace.”

Away from work, the survey also asked respondents to name the festive music they dreaded most and the ‘must see film’.  Although a minority claimed they did not dislike any festive music, 17 per cent said named Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’, 11 per cent identified Cliff Richard’s songs, especially ‘Mistletoe and Wine’, and 1 in 10 cited ‘Jingle Bells’ as their most hated Christmas song.  The most popular films to relax to this holiday season were named as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, ‘Casino Royale’, ‘White Christmas’ and ‘The Snowman’. 

Across the UK, the Institute’s research shows that organisations in London (84 per cent) and the South-West (80 per cent) are more likely to be holding Christmas events.  Only 58 per cent of Scottish organisations will be having an end-of year party, but the lowest was East Anglia (57 per cent).

- ends -

Further information:
Mike Petrook /Julia Brook, Institute Press Office
Tel: 020 7497 0496; outside office hours: 07931 302 877
Website: www.managers.org.uk

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