Employers tighten their purse strings during festive period

SOME of Scotland’s biggest employers have lost some of the Christmas spirit as they reveal that they will be making no financial contribution to an office party this year.

A survey has revealed that organisations including Standard Life, Aegon, Scottish Enterprise and Northern Rock will not be funding Christmas parties.

Staff can still organise their own party but they will have to dip into their own pockets.  

Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds say they will only be making modest contributions to the cost of staff parties.

A Standard Life spokesperson said: “There is no official annual Christmas party for staff.

“In some circumstances department managers may decide to contribute towards a team lunch or dinner, but this would be at the discretion of the manager.”

A spokesperson for insurers Aegon said: “Historically it was always down to the individual departments to organise their own party celebrations – the company may have offered contributions depending on tiers and such.

“This year very straightforward guidelines have been issued that the company will not be making any sort of contribution towards these events. “

RBS is one of the few organisations still making a contribution and stated that, as in previous years, it would spend £10 a head on a Christmas party.

Lloyds TSB Scotland would not say what its contribution might be.

A spokesman said: “We very much appreciate the financial difficulties many households face because of the current financial climate.

“Like many other organisations we continue to take a sensible and prudent approach to colleague-related activity.”

Due to the recent financial crash it means that companies do not have money to spare to splash out on festive activities.

Justin Sayers of party planners Christmas Connections said: “It’s still quite difficult for companies to commit because of all the negativity.

“What a lot of companies have done, particularly large companies, is to allow departments to organise their own parties, rather than have big parties involving the whole company.

“There are parties around but they are smaller.”

But some experts say that cancelling Christmas parties may have a disastrous effect on office morale.

Graeme Codrington, future trends analyst, said: “Companies need to be doing whatever they can to ensure their staff feel appreciated.

“There may be companies that have a real and present financial danger to the organisation, or a legitimate and accepted public relations reason to not to be seen to be celebrating this year end.

“i am sure staff would understand if this year’s Christmas party is lower budget and restrained.

“But to cancel it completely will simply add to people’s reasons to leave and would be a very short-sighted budgeting measure.

“Wise managers should think twice before doing so.

“Now is the time to spoil your staff. Now is the time to say thank you and give back just a little in response to the energy and effort they have given in difficult circumstances this past year.

“Even Scrooge worked this lesson out in the end.”

REPORT: Amanda MacMillan

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