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Christmas Party or Cash? What Would you Prefer This Week?

The office Christmas party is as traditional as turkey for Christmas dinner, with employees up and down the country digging out their glad rags and getting ready to eat and drink at their employers' expense. Every year the newspapers and magazines are choc-a-bloc with articles warning about the perils of drinking too much and behaving inappropriately in front of senior staff members.

It's a tradition among workers to make the most of the hospitality on offer, let their hair down and see what everyone looks like away from the working environment. Alliances are formed, gossip is passed around, romances are formed and generally a good time is had by all.
You'd think that with news of the recession showing signs of abatement that the work Christmas party would be even more of a celebration in 2013. Surely we are all just dying to celebrate the light at the end of the financial tunnel and congratulate ourselves on a good job very well done. Aren't we?

Well, apparently, many of us would happily forgo the festivities, the gossip, the drink, the food, and even the inappropriate use of the office photocopier in favour of a cash bonus. Metlife, which specialises in employee benefits and pensions, has conducted a survey among companies and businesses and has uncovered the surprising fact that up to 71% of employees would prefer cash to a party.

Even the die-hard party goers in the 18-24 age group are not immune to the lure of the filthy lucre, with 65% expressing a preference for the cash. Normally these youngsters are heading up the queue for the drinks table at the party, particularly when the boss is paying for unlimited booze, but surprisingly they would quite happily forgo the merriment at someone else's expense if it meant a little more cash in their wallets.

The Metlife survey indicates that employers would much prefer to dole out the money on entertaining the workers rather than give out bonus payments. This is almost certainly because they believe that the Christmas party is an appropriate way of rewarding employees for their work throughout the year, and many bosses believe that a good party is a great morale booster.
Many companies are still reeling from the financial turmoil of recent years and cutting back on staff functions can save a considerable sum of cash, particularly for larger organisations. Only 57% of employers in the survey stated that they would be holding a staff celebration this year although this figure rises to 71% in the London area.

It's quite easy to understand why an employer might choose to call off the Christmas do this year, but why on earth would as many as seven out of 10 workers say that they would take the cash rather than party? Metlife believes that people are still reeling from the financial problems of the past few years and view cash in the hand is a greater reward than a good old knees-up.
However, what these employees may have failed to realise is that any Christmas bonus payment would be liable for taxation, decreasing the actual sum received. Employers are allowed to spend as much as £150 per head on the Christmas party without any taxation, so employees might be well advised to go with the flow and enjoy the party.

The survey has uncovered a marked division in attitude between northerners and southerners. Those workers in the north of the country who took part in the survey were more keen to take the cash with over 80% of people saying they would choose this option. In contrast, 44% of workers from the south of the country would choose to party rather than hang onto the cash.

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