Several large companies host smaller holiday parties within departments rather than larger events across the company.
Uncertainty about the Omicron Covid variant has exacerbated safety concerns at large meetings.
NatWest, Aviva and Deloitte have told employees that attending holiday events will be a personal choice.
However, the event industry hoped that the big Christmas holidays would help recover lost revenue.
According to a survey of 2,000 office workers commissioned by Covid Prenetics testing company, around 52 percent of UK workplaces have decided not to hold an office Christmas party.
Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising agency S4 Capital, said his clients have “had a sharp series of cancellations since [Omicron] just three, four, five days ago.”
“Uncertainty is extreme,” he told the BBC show today. “And government policy — understandably, to sympathize a little with the government, is an extremely difficult situation — but we’ve been through this before with Delta and the previous variants, so you would have thought that the government would be a little better prepared for what might or might not happen scenarios and planning.”
NatWest, which employs nearly 60,000 full-time employees, has asked employees to conduct a side-flow test before attending team events.
Insurance company Aviva has also asked employees to test for Covid on the morning of their Christmas parties being held on teams. The company also advised people to “wear face coverings if necessary.”
Meanwhile, consulting firms Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG confirmed that company-wide events were unplanned, but smaller teams could make plans for each other.
The BBC knows that most major investment banks no longer hold big Christmas parties, and teams are now hosting meetings outside the office.
Economics Secretary George Freeman said: “For many small businesses with four or five employees working together every day, meeting for drinks isn’t a big risk anyway, but some companies usually attract hundreds of people from around the world and could decide this year if that’s sensible, given that the pandemic and where we are.
“In the end, I think companies know how to make these decisions,”
Said the government that there is no need to cancel a Christmas party despite the emergence of the coronavirus omicron variant. People are encouraged to get a booster shot.
But NHS providers said some NHS trusts asked employees not to mix in large groups in the run-up to Christmas.
The UK health safety authority head, Dr. Jenny Harries, said people shouldn’t socialize “unless we particularly need it.”
‘We’ve postponed our party’
Plextek Services Ltd, an engineering services company based in Great Chesterford, told the BBC that it had postponed its office Christmas party from 10 December to 25 February.
CEO Brent Hudson said part of his 80-member workforce would be “worried” about the new variant, which is why the postponement makes sense because Plextek “wanted to have attended an event as much as possible.”
“The venue said we would be responsible for the full cost if we approach December 10 than now,” he added.
“We felt there was a reasonable chance that the government would ban such meetings before December 10 and we are not willing to cancel costs.” line
The emergence of the new Covid tribe has not meant that hospitality will be reduced, but companies say that the trust of food and beverage customers has been seen affected, with a flood of cancellations ahead of the most important money processing period in the sector of the year.
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, told the BBC that he “absolutely loved” the return of the Christmas party this year, but reservations had “stagnated” since the appearance of the Omicron variant.
He said several event companies have also reported cancellations in recent days.
“The government must recognize that while there are no restrictions on hospitality and the nightlife economy, we are reviewing the moments of March 2020 when the Prime Minister asked people not to go to pubs, bars, clubs and theaters,” Mr. Kill added.
Design My Night, a digital platform that allows people to make reservations at restaurants, bars, and pubs, said it saw an increase in people who canceled scheduled bookings in December.
The company announced that cancellations increased by 14% compared to last week after the government announced that masks would again be mandatory in stores in England.
Hospitality was one of the industries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Pubs, hotels, and restaurants had to close during three lockdowns.
“The alarming talk about Plan B is already felt in the hospitality industry as bookings are canceled, and plans change,” said Kate Nicholls, executive director of the UK hotel industry panel.
“There is no doubt that this will have a detrimental effect on companies just as they enter their important trading period.”
Christmas party… abroad?
Matthew Dibley, owner and manager of Bang and Olufsen in Exeter, takes his six employees on a four-day Christmas holiday to Lanzarote.
Mr. Dibley told the BBC that for the trip from 16 December to 19 December, he decided to reward his employees for their hard work during a “few hard years.”
“We like to treat our employees well and pay them well,” he said. “Normally, we wouldn’t do that,” but
Mr. Dibley said he and his team were concerned about whether the new Omicron variant would lead to further international travel restrictions.
“We just think that’s going to be typical if we’re not allowed to go,” he added. “We look forward to continuing to walk.”