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The hidden cost of the company Christmas party

With the Christmas party season in full swing, most companies have already spent their budget on a festive gathering. But planning the party comes with hidden costs that many businesses don’t consider. Des McLaughlin, Divisional Director at Grass Roots Meetings & Events totals up the figures.

“Advent is upon us and some research I have just conducted on the back of a cigarette packet suggests Christmas parties cost companies approximately twice the amount they realise due to lost working hours.

“Let’s assume you have a company of 100 employees. One person, usually a PA, will spend at least 10 hours organising everything – which I appreciate is a rather conservative estimate. At least 10 staff will spend an hour talking about the party in the weeks running up to the event. 75% of the staff will slack off for the last two hours of the day when the party takes place. About 10% will be too hungover to come to work the next day and a further 50% will come in but may as well have stayed home because they will be next to useless for the majority of the morning.

“That is a total of 420 hours! At minimum wage that is £2,814; at the national average it’s £5,712. Assuming your company spends around £50 per person on the event, that is a pretty eye-watering additional cost in the name of good cheer and festive fun.

“Seriously though, there are hidden costs to all events, the biggest being an attendee’s time away from the office doing their actual job. It is therefore imperative that PAs focus on ensuring events, whether delivered directly or through a third party, provide a genuine ROI.

“It is your job as PAs and ours as event experts to do far more than just the logistics and ensure the bills are paid. We must question the entire reason for the event, the motivation behind it and immerse ourselves in every aspect – from content and themes to travel and production. Ultimately, this approach will demonstrate far greater value and help to ensure that events provide a long-term legacy – and I am not talking about rumours surrounding a sales manager’s antics in the copier room with the lady from payroll!”