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Mistletoe Mishaps and Festive Faux Pas: Avaya Research Reveals Good Intentions Rarely Prosper at the Office Christmas Party

For Immediate Release:10 Dec 2012

  • Home office workers more raucous than their office-based colleagues
  • Finance employees most likely to regret their behaviour while public sector workers get social
  • Security savvy IT industry guilty of divulging too much personal information
Move over Brian from accounts, home workers risk becoming the new office party stereotype. New research from Avaya, a global provider of business collaboration and communications solutions and services, reveals the extent to which the UK’s good intentions go out the window when it comes to the office Christmas party. According to a survey of 2,000 home and office workers, despite over half of us (53%) viewing the office party as a strategic opportunity to network and build contacts, well over a third (38%) of people admit to drinking too much, and nearly a quarter of us (24%) wake up the next day regretting our behaviour. When it comes to faux pas, over a quarter (27%) of people consider a cheeky snog with the boss or a colleague to be the biggest one you can make, yet almost a fifth (18%) of us confess to having done it!
Home workers are the most enthusiastic party-goers, yet they’re also the worst offenders. While half of office-based employees would prefer to ditch the dodgy dancing for an evening in, a sizable 60 per cent of home workers would rather attend the Christmas party. Over a quarter (26%) of them sees it as an opportunity to schmooze with influential colleagues in contrast to a mere 16 per cent of office-based staff who believe they have a chance of furthering their career by manipulating the management at the work Christmas do.
But despite their good intentions and admirable career aspirations, home workers are more likely to regret their behaviour once at the event. In fact, 22 per cent of them admit to having snogged their boss, while 13 per cent say they’ve gone as far as to verbally abuse a colleague. For better-behaved office workers, these figures sit at just 13 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.
And perhaps the most feared consequence of unruly behaviour is having it documented and shared. Not surprisingly, Facebook is one of the most feared destinations (32%) for Christmas party snaps to end up. Yet quite unexpectedly, people would be more afraid of having proof of their exploits circulated internally (22%) than shared on Twitter (12%).
Financiers bank on having a good time
Peoples’ behaviour also varies dramatically by industry. Adhering to their reputation as party animals, people who work in finance were the most likely to regret their behaviour at the Christmas party (34%). What’s more, 40 per cent said that they’d embarrassed themselves by over-indulging at the bar.

Public sector driven to drink
Meanwhile, public sector workers were in danger of presenting themselves as dull with half of them saying they’d rather stay at home. While just short of a third (30%) of them said the Christmas party is a real inconvenience, 40 per cent said it was a great opportunity to get to know their co-workers in a social setting. Revealing their wild side, public sector workers were the most likely to go for the free drinks alone with almost two thirds (65%) saying it was the best thing about the office do. Meanwhile, half of them said they have embarrassed themselves in the past as a result of too much festive fizz and a tenth of them have been sick or cried.
IT staff remain professional
People in IT spend much of their time worrying about how to keep information and data safe, but they’re also most likely to embarrass themselves by divulging too much personal information. People who work in telecoms came out on top as the best behaved – or perhaps they have a higher threshold for what’s considered acceptable conduct. Only 16 per cent said they’d ever regretted their behaviour at a Christmas party.
Creative industries campaign for career progression
In media and publishing it’s all about who you know, and this appears to ring true when it comes to festive socialising. In fact, media and publishing professionals are the most ambitious with almost a third (30%) saying the primarily see the Christmas party as an opportunity to get in front of their boss. Meanwhile, 37 per cent of their marketing and PR cousins prefer to see it as an opportunity to build social relationships with their colleagues. Almost two thirds (62%) said the best thing about the event is spending time with co-workers in a relaxed environment and being able to show off their fun side.
Overall, respondents were undecided on what they consider the ideal Christmas party with a civilized lunch coming out on top (31%); closely followed by a swanky evening do (28%), and then drinks down the pub (22%). In terms of what workers can expect this year, almost half of people anticipate something similar to what they’ve had the last few years, and 23 per cent expect a more modest affair. A lucky 11 per cent of people say this year’s Christmas party will be bigger and better than ever –18 per cent of these work in the finance industry compared to an average 10 per cent across all other industries.
Other findings:
  • 44 per cent of people said the worst thing about the Christmas party is having to spend time with colleagues you don’t know or like
  • 33 per cent said it’s having to deal with drunken colleagues
  • 21 per cent said it’s having to restrain yourself in front of colleagues
Quote:
“A mistletoe mishap or a festive faux pas is more likely to happen to home workers than their office based colleagues. Perhaps it’s because they don’t spend time socializing after work or even because they don’t have such regular interaction with colleagues. Regardless, while nobody expects De Brett’s levels of decorum it’s a good rule of thumb to keep networking at the Christmas party to sociable pleasantries and steer clear of the mistletoe!”
SIMON CULMER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, UK AND IRELAND, AVAYA
About Avaya:
Avaya is a global provider of business collaboration and communications solutions, providing unified communications, contact centers, networking and related services to companies of all sizes around the world. For more information please visit www.avaya.com/uk/.
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