CHICAGO (CBS) — Companies are taking a cautious approach to holiday parties this year, given the recent climate of sexual harassment and misconduct.

The vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based human resource consulting company, says human resource executives across the country are feeling some trepidation about the annual company holiday party in the face of countless reports of inappropriate sexual contact in the workplace.

 

“It’s just such a big topic, it’s on everybody’s mind, and it’s particularly on the minds of HR executives that are often planning these parties,” Andrew Challenger said. “So they’re taking measures to create a safe environment for their employees, and I think it’s laudable, and it’s also a little disappointing.”

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas’ annual survey on holiday party plans, 11 percent of employers will not hold a holiday party, while 80 percent will. However, fewer of those parties will serve alcohol, use caterers and other such services, or invite guests of employees to attend.

And several companies hosting soirees are cutting back on alcohol.

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The survey found that only 48 percent of companies are serving alcohol at their parties; down from 62 percent last year.

Challenger says there’s nothing else that would explain why fewer companies are having parties and why more are deciding not to serve alcohol except for the “Weinstein effect.”

“The company party is a way for employers to celebrate the accomplishments of their workers. It should boost morale and let workers know they are valued. It should not put anyone in an uncomfortable situation,” he said in a press release.

“When unemployment is as low as it is — 4.1 percent — we usually see the exact opposite, where companies are really holding more extravagant parties, more companies are holding parties to kind of retain and attract employees during a low unemployment environment.”

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