2023 Challenger Year-End Survey Results

Published December 19, 2023

More Companies Are Partying In-Person This Year

Companies are ready to celebrate with their teams in-person as we end the year, but are holding back on year-end bonuses according to new survey results from global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

This year, 64.4% of companies report they are having in-person holiday parties, up from 57% who reported this last year and 27% who held in-person parties in 2021. This is the highest percentage of companies holding in-person holiday parties since 75% of companies reported they held parties in 2019.

Another nearly 4% will hold virtual events this year, up from 2% who reported holding virtual events in 2022, likely due to the adoption of remote and hybrid work. Of those holding parties, 4% reported they will include COVID modifications.

Challenger Gray & Christmas 2023 Year-End Survey Report: Will your company hold an in-person holiday party this year?; created in Piktochart

“Despite companies approaching the end of the year cautiously due to the economy, they are ready to celebrate their teams after a good financial year, according to our findings, and want to do so in-person,” said Andrew Challenger, labor expert and Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Will Your Company Hold An In Person Holiday Party This Year 2023 from the Challenger Year-End Survey Results Report

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

The new findings are from a survey conducted online in November among 202 U.S.-based companies of various sizes and industries nationwide. Challenger has tracked employers’ holiday party plans since 2004.

The number of companies holding parties this year is similar to 2018, when 65% of companies reported they were holding year-end celebrations. In the last decade, the best year for holiday celebrations occurred in 2014, when 78% of companies responded they were hosting holiday parties.

Regarding budgets, 66% are maintaining their party budgets, while 8% reported they are spending less this year. Another 33% are spending more on employer celebrations this year, 70% of whom will spend under 10% more.

More companies plan to use the workday to celebrate with their teams: 58% in 2023 compared to 48% last year. Another 32% plan to use company premises to hold the celebrations, compared to 28% last year.

“With remote and hybrid work becoming the norm, companies are using their offices as a central hub, and know workers should be available to come to the office during working hours,” said Challenger.

Perhaps because more parties will be during the day at work, fewer companies plan to serve alcohol this year. Nearly 57% of companies will serve alcohol at the party, compared to 63% who reportedly served alcohol in 2022.

What will your company do for the in-person holiday party this year - historic - from the Challenger Year-End Survey Results Report

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

2024 Hiring Plans

In Challenger’s survey, 46% of companies reported they increased hiring in 2023, and expect to continue adding workers in 2024, up from 39% who reported this in 2022, but much lower than the 63% who expected to add workers at the end of 2021.

Which Statement Best Describes Your Company’s Hiring Outlook For 2024 from the Challenger Year-End Survey Results Report

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

“Companies are approaching the end of the year with extreme caution. Attracting and retaining talent is not as high a priority as it was in 2021 and 2022,” said Challenger.

While companies added workers in 2023, they also reported layoffs: 29% of companies reported they had layoffs in 2023, and 21% report they will likely conduct layoffs in 2024. Another 20% report they are cutting costs in other ways.

Has Your Company Or Does Your Company Plan To Undergo Layoffs In 2023 Or Early 2024 from the Challenger Year-End Survey Results Report

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

Companies Are Opting Against Bonuses This Year

The year-end bonus is a tradition for many employers, but 2023 is seeing the highest rate of companies not hand out bonuses since 36% of companies opted not to give out bonuses in 2019.

Over 34% of employers are not awarding a bonus this year, 2% of which are not awarding one after awarding one a year earlier. This is up from 27% who did not hand out company bonuses in 2022. Meanwhile, 15% of companies are lowering the value of the bonus, up from 11% who decreased company bouses last year.

Does Your Company Award Year End Holiday Bonus, Perks Or Gifts To Employees from the Challenger Year-End Survey Results Report

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

In 2023, 24% of companies plan to award a non-monetary or nominal award, down from 29% who reported this in 2022, and 35% who reported this in 2021.

“As companies enter 2024, they are doing away with the small tokens of appreciation in favor of saving money during a time perceived economic softness,” said Challenger.

If Your Company Does Award Year End:holiday Bonus, Perks Or Gifts To Employees, Please Describe How This Year’s Distribution Differs From Last Year from the Challenger Year-End Survey Results Report

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

Fewer companies opted keep the amount flat, 76% in 2023 compared to 81% in 2022, while 9% will increase bonuses this year, up from 4% of companies that increased bonuses in 2022.

Fewer respondents also reported offering bonuses at other times of the year. Of the 66% of companies offering bonuses, 27% report they occur at other times of the year, compared to 32% who reported this last year.

“Companies’ year-end plans are reflecting the position that 2024 will bring slower growth. With companies slower to hire and workers more likely to stay in their jobs, companies are cutting where they can. Attracting and retaining workers is not as high a priority as it was in 2021 and 2022,” said Challenger.

In fact, 20% of companies reported that they are currently cutting costs.

Upcoming Business Conditions

Companies are optimistic on business conditions at the end of 2023. Nearly 35% of companies report business conditions have improved as we enter 2024, compared to 25% who reported this at the end of 2022. Nearly 36% report conditions are on par with last year. Just 11% report conditions are worse than last year.

 

How Are Business Conditions As You Enter 2024 from the Challenger Year-End Survey Results Report

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

Demographics of Survey Respondents

2023 Respondent Demographics from the Challenger Year-End Survey Results Report

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

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Contact Colleen Madden Blumenfeld for more data or to set up an interview with SVP Andy Challenger.

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Yahoo! Finance

Watch Andy Challenger on Yahoo! Finance
Layoffs soared 98% in 2023 with employers in cost-cutting mode

Read story here.

In addition to the rise in layoffs, other signs have appeared showing that the labor market is cooling. A survey from Challenger released last month showed that 34% of employers didn’t give out bonuses in 2023 up from the 27% that didn’t award company bonuses in 2022 and the highest rate since 2019, when 36% of companies decided not to give their workers bonuses.

Andrew Challenger, SVP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. was Interviewed by Yahoo! Finance; January 2024

Andy Challenger talks economic news on Yahoo! Finance.