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Tuesday, 5 December, 2000, 01:52 GMT
Workers 'dread' office parties
Many employees consider office parties a minefield
As Christmas fast approaches, the notorious office party season is getting into full swing.

But although workers will spend an average of 45 hours socialising with their colleagues or clients in the run-up to Christmas, a recent survey shows many would rather stay at home.

Many of the 1,500 people questioned by recruitment firm Office Angels described the office Christmas party as a potential minefield.

But four out of 10 said they looked forward to festive social events as a chance to raise their profile and network with senior staff.

Paul Jacobs, corporate communications director of Office Angels, said the socialising did put a strain on many employees.

Drinking dangers

"However, they should view it as a positive opportunity to network and bond with bosses and colleagues as well as strengthening relationships with clients and suppliers," he said.

Anecdotes can circulate the office for years after a particularly raucous drink-fuelled party.
Romantic clinches may not be a good idea

But Heather Pickering, principal of Protocol Plus, which runs courses in good manners, social skills and etiquette, said drinking oiled the wheels of a good office party.

She suggested senior staff be on the lookout for younger workers whose behaviour is getting out of hand and have a quiet word with the bar staff.

Ashley Gerrish, account manager with recruitment firm TMP Worldwide, warned against the temptation of romantic clinches.

Career moves

"They can lead to problems, especially if one of the parties is already in a relationship," she said.

"Incidents like that could also lead to claims of sexual harassment and just general embarrassment for everyone."

The Office Angels survey found that six out of 10 felt under pressure to attend an out-of-hours event, believing their careers would be hit if they stayed away.

Ms Gerrish said someone's career was unlikely to be affected.

"But from my experience it is valuable to socialise because you make wider contacts and better friends both within a company and externally."

See also:

13 Dec 99 | Business
Christmas bonus bonanza
04 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Christmas parties taxed, claim Tories
08 Dec 98 | Office Life
Party at your peril
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