'Tis the season for year-end office parties: Love it or hate it? Here's what we found

An office party usually means a generous spread of Christmas yummies - and they are free. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
An office party usually means a generous spread of Christmas yummies - and they are free. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - It's that time of the year when the weather outside can be frightful, and when colleagues head abroad and return bearing exotic offerings from far-flung places.

And when we mumble that "the business lunch dragged on", that actually means we took the chance to do some Christmas shopping.

But as we contemplate that dream stretch between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day, when no real work gets done, one more item needs to be struck off the office calendar, if it hasn't been already - the year-end office party.

Going by overseas polls and anecdotal reports, the annual office party is an event to be endured, even dreaded.

Yet surprisingly, an overwhelming majority here claim they like the annual bash.

At least that's based on our own rather unscientific poll among workers in the communications, media and real estate industry - with 25 out of 30 giving the thumbs up to the year-end party.

WHY WE LOVE IT

1. Free food!

Enough said for true-blue "cheapo" Singaporeans.

2. "Wah, never seen my boss so relax man!"

And by relaxed, we could mean happily tipsy. Nothing brings some lonely cubicle dwellers together better than the office party - especially when staff are let off early for the occasion.

One employee aged in her 30s, who has seen many uptight bosses in her time, said: "With a few glasses in the stomach, the bosses become quite chatty and cracked a lot more jokes. The jokes also sound funnier than usual because everyone is inebriated too."

It's also a good chance for everyone to legitimately slack off, another employee said.

3. Days of auld lang syne

Some more exerienced - read, older - staff find year-end office parties poignant.

"I would stand in one corner and wonder which colleagues would leave and which would stay by the next turn of the year. If a colleague really does leave, that would have been our last year-end party together," said a reflective type in his 50s who has since also left to be his own boss.

WHY WE HATE IT

1. Free food - but with no control over what's on the menu.

"I have been in the same office for three years, and it's somehow always Indian food for every celebration," said one 26-year-old worker. Maybe the boss just has a caterer "lobang" or contact.

2. Forced bonding.

"I'm not familiar with some of the people, so it's a lot of making of small talk which I'm horrid at," was one unhappy response.

"You're forcing people to do what they don't want to do - attend," said another reluctant party-goer.

"I already see my colleagues every day, why would I want to see them after work?"

"I have worked for so many types of companies and some colleagues are dead awkward."

3. Same old, same old.

"Dinner and dance (D&D) concepts are pretentious and time-consuming. I'd rather have a nice simple meal with people you can chat with casually," said one employee.

Another believes D&Ds are "boring and not that fun for anyone".

"The company could better spend the money on giving out better bonuses or cash benefits," she said.

<a href="http://www.straitstimes.com/%3Ca%20href%3D"http://polldaddy.com/poll/8541514/">http://polldaddy.com/poll/8541514/">How do you feel about your year-end office party?</a>