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Parties and Layoffs - Does Having One Mean You Shouldn't Have the Other?

Trick question....

-On one hand, if your company has had to lay off people, you probably need to be careful on theMorris day extravagance level of any party you hold...

-On the other hand, just because you have had some layoffs doesn't mean you stop attempting to get people engaged in the mission of the company.  Parties serve that end in some cultures, so it's probably unrealistic to think parties will be eliminated in corporate America?

Want a good example of the considerations?  Look no further than Yahoo, which annouced layoffs of over 10% of it's workforce, but channels the artist formerly known as Prince in deciding to party like it's 1999. (Hint - it's 2008, and didn't Prince record that in the mid-80's?  Unrelated shoutout to SHRM Florida for having Morris Day at their state convention)

But I digress. More on Yahoo from Valleywag:

"We haven't yet heard who will be the entertainment at Yahoo's Christmas party, scheduled for December 6, four days before the company proceeds with mass layoffs. Yet again, it's being held at a convention center by a racetrack — this year, with a Vegas theme. 2007's party featured a Neil Diamond cover band. For this year, how about Money For Nothing, the Dire Straits tributaries? We're sure they're cheap. Good thing, because a tipster familiar with Yahoo's budget says the company will spend $8 million to $10 million this year on holiday parties alone.

Not just the bash in San Mateo, but also festivities for Yahoo's offices in Los Angeles, New York, and around the world. Oh, and more for the divisions. "Each department below Jerry has a party, so you end up going to at least four parties, all for the same company," says our source. For Yahoo, this is just business as usual. "The company leadership is in denial and there are parties every week," our source continues."

What do you think?  For a number like $8 to $10 million, I guess I expected more than a cover band playing "Money for Nothing" multiple times in the same night.

I'd vote to ditch the parties, at least for the year...



My husband told me yesterday that his employer is not throwing a holiday party this year. He's a financial advisor for one of the remaining houses. His firm is doing fine; no major lay offs, but it's been one heck of a ride for the past several months. Morale is a little shakey as you can imagine. In this instance, I think a party would be helpful. Nothing over-the-top, but something to ignite some enthusiasm and confidence. I think we're going to hold a dinner party at our home for his team on our own dime. It will probably be more enjoyable anyway. We may be pulling out some Survivor..Eye of the Tiger.

deb owen

At my last corporate gig, they did no less than five major events a year (and then quarterly lunches and a bunch of other stuff throughout the year). And they absolutely did not get it.

I've written before about this same company's president throwing several events a year as well -- strictly for 'management'.

Meanwhile, while management was patting themselves on the back for how wonderfully generous they were.....the employees were saying, "But you pay us $8.50 - $10 an hour and just raised our benefits premiums and gas is $4 a gallon....."

Yes. You want to take care of your people. But if their best office mate just got laid off and you're still throwing a big bash that probably costs more than that person's salary? The message seems a tad inconsistent.

So yeah.
If you're laying off, this might be a year to organize a Saturday 'volunteer event' and get your people to go out together and do something good for your community. Something that doesn't cost anything, but is still an event and brings people together.

All the best!

Joel Kimbll

You had me at "Morris Day." What was the subject of the blog again...?

Totally Consumed

Party to improve morale, or no party to show a commitment to savings; you hit the nail on the head with that question.

There are ways to have a party without spending extravagantly. The best managers and company leaders will always find a way to keep morale high, without skimping on the good will and team-building.


YEah the party thing really cracks me. Often I encounter companies that are doing a round of layoffs. The remaining staff have to absorb additional work and everyone is stressed out. Instead of offering a cheap on-site yoga or stress reduction class that employees can take part in every week all year long, employers spend many times for dollars on cheesy holiday parties that most employees would rather skip if it means losing a night with the family to hanging out with a bunch of drunk coworkers...Go figure.


In the midst of layoffs, canceling a holiday party for a company could mean saving co-worker jobs. Employees can still plan social activities to enjoy each other. The company doesn't have to pay for it to make it fun.


Well, company layoffs and parties don't mix well. But, for those that are with the company, do something that does not cost a lot, but shows appreciation to the employees. Something!


A party?

Give me a break...this is the same Yahoo that refused to be acquired by Microsoft and now they are begging to be bought by.....microsoft.

Having a party while conducting layoffs sends a message about the priority of leadership. Typically, these parties do little to 'rev up' the engines (that produce business results) in my opinion.

If you need a reason for social interaction, why not meet at someones house and everyone chip in?

Or how about the 'Boss' calling everyone together and reflect on the past year and the year ahead?

And please....yoga? Stress reduction?

Hello???? Times, they are a changin!


Clearly, companies care about employment issues.

They gave Morris Day a job, after all!

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