Office holiday parties may look a little different this year

A man dressed in Santa Claus costume poses with his dog for a photo during the annual Santa Claus parade in Brandenburg December 9, 2006.…
A man dressed in Santa Claus costume poses with his dog for a photo during the annual Santa Claus parade in Brandenburg December 9, 2006.…
Image: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

The thing about living through an ever-evolving global pandemic is that it’s very hard to plan ahead, or to feel confident about what is the correct, responsible thing to do.

Office holiday parties are no exception. Does the Omicron variant mean that it would be more prudent to cancel plans for company-wide karaoke? Would a virtual wine tasting be more inclusive of parents of kids under age 5, who can’t yet be vaccinated? Will holding a party at headquarters make remote workers feel left out?

Amid all this uncertainty, it’s no wonder that 22% of human-resource executives at US companies still weren’t sure what they would be doing for holiday festivities when employment consultancy firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas surveyed them in October and November. About 27% said they were planning on in-person holiday parties, while 7% were opting for virtual festivities. And 35% threw up their hands and said they weren’t going to have a holiday party at all.

That last group is making a strategic mistake, according to the firm’s senior vice president Andy Challenger. However companies choose to celebrate the holidays with employees, he says, for the sake of morale, it’s important that they do something.

Among the reasons Americans are quitting their jobs at historic rates, Challenger argues, is that “when people are spread apart, with a lot of people working from home, connective tissue has really deteriorated over the last year and a half. When it’s just them alone with their work at home, it’s easy for them to take other opportunities and to flow to other companies and industries.”

In a tight labor market, Challenger says, holiday parties offer management an excellent opportunity to express appreciation for staff. And if your own company doesn’t have a holiday event scheduled yet, it’s not too late to plan a January jamboree—thereby giving everyone something to look forward to.  —Sarah Todd

Read more of Sarah’s story on companies’ creative holiday party plans this year by clicking here

Cast your vote!

What kind of holiday party would you prefer this year?

Anything in person.

Online only, please.

No party. I’m over parties.

Five things we learned this week

🏛️ We’re all wondering. Does omicron cause unusual symptoms? Quartz reporter, Manavi Kapur, examines what we know so far.

🏆 And the person of the year is… Elon Musk, according to Time Magazine. Here’s why Time picked him.

💼 Looking toward 2022. Can you be more productive, focused, and happier at work in the year ahead? Of course you can! Our colleague Jackie Bischof interviewed career experts to figure out how.

💵 Meet MrsDowJones. Haley Sacks, a financial influencer, or “finfluencer,” wants her followers to afford a fabulous lifestyle, not just aspire to it.

✂️ Cut loose. Alibaba fired a #MeToo accuser for harming the company’s reputation.

We asked, they answered

At a Quartz at Work (from anywhere) workshop last week, our reporter Cassie Werber put the question of how to have a career in social impact to a panel of experts. The panel brought together a host of experiences across a range of industries shared plenty of advice. Some of the key takeaways: You don’t have to solve all the world’s problems all at once. You do need to cut through the noise. And perhaps most important of all, you do need to be brave!

You can review our full workshop series here, or watch a replay of the social impact workshop here.

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You got The Memo!

This week’s Memo was written by Sarah Todd and Cassie Werber. It was edited by Francesca Donner. The Quartz at Work team can be reached at

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