How Mourinho move highlights bosses' "Scrooge or Santa" dilemma

03 December 2014 -


As top coach announces his side will get a Christmas bash, CMI research shows that 30% of managers won’t be holding festive staff parties at all – and almost half of them will be working throughout the festive season

Jermaine Haughton

Christmas parties are prime occasions to listen to cheesy music, stuff your face with mince pies and hold awkward social conversations with colleagues. One boss who seems determined to enter the spirit of things is the often outspoken Jose Mourinho – manager of Chelsea football club – who announced in the past week that his side will be treated to a Christmas bash this year following a successful start to the season. Currently unbeaten at the top of the Premiership, Chelsea have also sailed through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

“They are doing very well,” Mourinho said. “Probably because of that, the club is preparing a little Christmas party for them and their families.”

Given the hectic schedule of games before the end of the year, the Portuguese boss made it clear that the shindig in question will be a relatively quiet affair. “There are Christmas parties,” he said, “and ‘Christmas parties’. This one I think the families deserve, and the boys are very happy to be with their families. This is a squad with a lot of kids aged from a couple of weeks to 10 years old. It's good for them. For good things, we will find the time.”

But while Chelsea players and other employees across the land look forward to their events, many will be denied the chance to celebrate the festive season in this fashion because of miserly managers. For example, a recent Telegraph report revealed that leaders at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) wouldn’t be organising any Christmas dos for its staff this year – even though it allows other organisations to make their bashes tax deductible. Thanks to a loophole from the taxman, companies are not required to pay any levies on corporate Christmas parties, as long as their costs are kept south of £150 per person. In Scrooge-like fashion, though, none of the body’s £3.4bn budget for 2014 year will be spent on gathering its workers together for a knees-up.

Unfortunately, HMRC staff are not alone – as 30% of bosses in a poll by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) revealed that they won’t be holding any Christmas festivities this year in their organisations. According to the CMI study, which surveyed 1,200 leaders, almost a third of firms that are planning to host Christmas events expect staff to foot the bill – despite an overwhelming majority of managers (60%) believing that Christmas parties are an important way of recognising hard work – and 57% sure that they boost employee engagement.

CMI’s research uncovered plenty of other evidence of seasonal Scrooging on the part of managers:

70% said that they will be doing at least some work-related activities over the festive period

46% will continue to work every single day

13% are planning to keep their organisations open over Christmas

However, while Christmas parties are notorious hothouses of embarrassing moments, the poll suggests that only 17% of managers think that the risk of poor behaviour outweighs the benefits of a celebration. That said, costs were never far from the respondents’ minds, with 40% agreeing that a particularly expensive end-of-year party could damage their firms’ reputation. Indeed, 24% said they would rather the money was spent on something else.

For CMI head of research Patrick Woodman, Christmas events are an excellent way for managers to show their appreciation for staff. “Celebrating the festive season is as much about business as it is about bubbles,” he said, “yet some employers may be more Scrooge than Santa where staff parties are concerned. This should be the time of year to reward teams for their efforts and achievements, so it’s a shame many employees are set to shun Christmas parties this year.

“However,” he added, “most managers agree that a Christmas ‘do’ is an important way of showing their appreciation to staff and – despite the stereotypes – most agree that the benefits outweigh any risk of misbehaviour. Whether it’s the traditional evening party, a lunch or an alternative activity, it’s good for business to bring teams together and celebrate the end of a hard year.”

Woodman warned that it was also part of managers’ responsibility to ensure staff are well rested. “Of course,” he said, “some organisations stay open across the festive period, such as essential services like healthcare – or global industries where Christmas bank holidays don’t apply. But many managers will also be picking up work at home over the break, and emails are never far away. It’s important that employees are encouraged to switch off for a few days to recharge the batteries for next year.”

CMI has published an infographic of its research. To find that – plus a video vox pop on Christmas parties and details of how to get CMI’s forthcoming Future Forecast report – visit…

Image of Jose Mourinho courtesy of Maxisport / Shutterstock.

Powered by Professional Manager