SurePayroll Insights Survey: Despite Economy, Small Businesses Want to Party

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Most small business owners are confident they can afford to treat their offices to end-of-year celebrations

Any office celebration is going to boost morale, but employees definitely appreciate extra creative ideas

According to a survey conducted this month by online payroll service SurePayroll, most small business owners are prepared to end 2008 in celebration. The survey found that despite the economic challenges of recent months, 6 out of 10 small business owners are planning to hold a holiday office party and 8 out of 10 of them are confident they can afford it.

Not only are business owners going ahead with holiday parties, they aren't cutting back on the scope of the events. Seven out of 10 business owners who are planning parties said they are spending as much or more money on this year's party as they have in the past.

"It's been a tough year for the business world, but most small business owners realize how essential it is to thank their employees for their hard work," says SurePayroll President Michael Alter. "A holiday party is the perfect opportunity. Business owners might cut other costs during tough times, but most budget for end-of-year celebrations because they are a much-needed spirit-lifter for everyone in the company."

Making your office party stand out:

While 56% of business owners said they have typically held their parties at restaurants, some respondents offered up stories about how they have made office holiday celebrations especially unique.

Out-of-the-ordinary celebrations included everything from throwing a bowling party and attending a concert to having a pie-eating contest and going to a casino. One business treated its employees to a timed downtown shopping spree where individuals were given $250 to spend only on themselves. The owner awarded a special prize to the employee who spent the closest to $250 without going over.

"Any office celebration is going to boost morale, but employees definitely appreciate extra creative ideas," says Alter. "It shows that employers care about their staff so much that they are willing to go the extra mile to make the holiday season special."

Tips for a successful office party:

As part of the survey, small business owners also recounted moments that quickly turned the party from simple fun to outrageous or awkward. Here is what some of the respondents had to say:

  • "One of the male members of our staff led a conga line in a grass skirt and coconut bra."
  • "A secretary lost her shirt for a substantial amount of time."
  • "Santa's pants fell down to his boxers."
  • "I heard that the accounting girl and a sales person got a little tipsy and then, well, you know…"
  • "The boss attempted to 'pick up' my date! And by 'pick up,' I don't mean physically."

According to Alter, party planning is the key to help avoid the worst, and hope for the best:

  • Think about who's on staff - "Considering who makes up your team can have a huge impact on the success of your party. Does your business have a large number of young single workers, or are they older workers with families? This will ultimately influence the decision about party location and activities that will most appeal to certain groups."
  • Survey the office - "Unless you're planning a surprise, ask your employees what they'd like to do to celebrate the holidays. Their ideas might not be what you expected, and there's no better way to ensure they will attend and have a good time."
  • Choose your location wisely - "If you choose a venue that allows for the consumption of alcohol, anticipate that there may be employees who take it a bit too far. Encourage carpooling and designated drivers or plan for appropriate transportation, if necessary. This will help ensure the safety of all your workers. If you're in a public setting, the way your employees celebrate may ultimately reflect upon your business. It's often a good idea to make employees aware of what your company does and does not condone in a holiday party setting."
  • Keep it lighthearted - "If you notice an awkward situation developing, sway the conversation in a different direction. If that doesn't work, pull the offending individuals aside and talk to them on a one-on-one basis to prevent the drama from becoming a company-wide spectacle."
  • Delegate responsibilities - "Small business owners often find themselves without enough time to get all their work done, much less plan an office party on their own. There's nothing wrong with asking various staff members to help out. In fact, it will most often lead to a better party."

About SurePayroll:
Voted Editor's Choice for best payroll service by PC Magazine, a Top 100 Product by Accounting Today and finalist in the Best Customer Care and Best Product categories of the 2008 American Business Awards, SurePayroll is America's largest full-service online payroll service and honoree of the of the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Businesses award two years in a row.

SurePayroll is passionate about small businesses and their payroll. The company is dedicated to providing an extremely friendly and simple payroll experience - at a price small business owners can afford.

In addition to its payroll and ClickFREETM tax file and pay service -- which allows a user to complete the entire payroll process in minutes -- SurePayroll offers a suite of online services designed specifically for small business, including HR and compliance resources, 401(k) retirement solutions, health insurance and workers' compensation products.

SurePayroll also offers a private-label and co-branded payroll service to accountants and banking partners to offer payroll processing to their small business clients.

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Lauren Eichmann
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