Status: 11/12/2021 4:00 p.m.
The number of corona infections is increasing rapidly. What consequences does this have for planned Christmas parties in companies? Is there a wave of rejections? And what opportunities do online Christmas parties offer?
The fourth corona wave has hit Germany. The 7-day incidence values reached new records several times in the past week. The fear of contagion is growing among many and the country is wondering which strategy to use to counter the pandemic.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is already calling for a return to massive restrictions: One advises “urgently to cancel or avoid larger events if possible, but also to reduce all other unnecessary contacts,” says the new weekly report.
Economy advises against large Christmas parties
The economy Monika Schnitzer also thinks about restrictions and advises companies to cancel large Christmas parties. You do not consider them appropriate in the current situation, the economist told the newspapers of the Funke media group. “2G with a daily test would be a consideration to allow small celebrations to take place,” admits Schnitzer.
At the company, the question of how employees can celebrate Christmas together is currently being widely discussed, as Nils Hirschfeld reports. He is a partner and managing director of the event agency and event broker platform hirschfeld.de: “Until a few days ago there was a real run at organized Christmas parties,” Hirschfeld said tagesschau.de. “We are a B2B platform that brings the various providers together. That is why we have a very good overview of the entire market.”
The entrepreneur had observed a significant increase in demand: “That has to do with the fact that people simply feel the need to meet and do something together. After all, after the lockdown over Christmas last year, there was a lot of catching up to do.”
From the booking boom to the first cancellations
However, that has changed completely in the past few days with the nationwide worsening of the pandemic situation. “For about two or three days, the demand has not only dropped significantly, the first cancellations are also coming,” observes Hirschfeld.
The reason is clear. Close contacts can hardly be avoided at Christmas parties, so that the risk of infection is likely to increase despite sophisticated hygiene concepts. This also increases the company’s risk that employees will fall ill. It is easy to imagine what this reluctance means for the tour operator industry, says the managing director: “It’s a real mess.”
A survey that the German Hotel and Restaurant Association carried out a few days ago among almost 400 entrepreneurs in North Rhine-Westphalia confirms this assessment: More than two thirds of restaurateurs and hoteliers stated that there were fewer bookings for Christmas parties and other events in December give as 2019.
“The uncertainty is growing”
The majority of small and medium-sized companies are aware that Christmas celebrations as we know them can only take place again this year under special circumstances, says Marc S. Tenbieg, Managing Director of the German Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (DMB) tagesschau.de fixed. “Although almost all companies have long since implemented sound and good hygiene concepts, we can determine in discussions that we are increasingly reluctant to take part in Christmas parties,” says Tenbieg. The uncertainty is growing because the safety of employees is the top priority.
It is clear that major events are not possible in view of the increasing number of infections. “Christmas parties could also be broken down to team level and thus take place on a small scale,” emphasizes the DMB board.
DAX groups cautious at Christmas parties
The joint Christmas party is also a topic for the DAX companies. As the “Handelsblatt” recently determined in a survey, for example, Deutsche Bank, Munich Re, Zalando and the health groups Fresenius and Fresenius Medical Care would not celebrate on the company premises. Siemens recommends “refraining from celebrations”, RWE is assuming a “small number” of departmental celebrations.
According to “Handelsblatt”, for example, Christmas parties in individual departments should be able to take place at Allianz, Bayer, Continental, Covestro, Henkel or Merck – of course, while adhering to strict hygienic regulations and with 2G or 3G certification.
Be together virtually
If the corona situation does not ease significantly again, it looks as if many employees have to spend the Christmas parties with colleagues in the same way as their working hours – in front of the screen. Hirschfeld also observes this: The demand for online Christmas parties via video conferences is increasing again. At digital events memories can be collected and shared experiences created, knows Tenbieg, who also emphasizes the social aspect of Christmas parties.
In the past year, many companies have already used modern variants of virtual sociability. “There are also many opportunities to get together and have fun, but of course that is no substitute for real human contact.” Whether a virtual Christmas is as beneficial for the cohesion and the mood of the employee team as a real Christmas is therefore at least doubtful.