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Surprise! No party for the New Year

Updated: 2013-01-26 03:47
By Xu Lin ( China Daily)

Instead of watching ubiquitous imitations of Gangnam Style at another year-end party, staff at Linksus Marketing were given something new.

Each got a big candylike gift, with 888 yuan ($143) in cash, chocolate and a thank you letter from their president Tan Ming — minus the party.

"The innovative idea tends to give each staff member what they like most so that they can deal with 'the candy' at their will. They are very happy about it," says Cui Liguang, brand manager of the company.

As Chinese New Year approaches, companies all over the country are busy holding year-end parties, most of which feature a buffet, various programs performed by staff members, such as singing, dancing, sketches and imitation shows, and a lottery with precious prizes.

Cui says that with a traditional year-end party, it's difficult to cater to everyone's taste at dinner because there are so many people. Some may not even have time to attend the party.

According to Cui, the cost of more than 1 million yuan is almost the same as that of last year, when nearly 1,700 staff members and their families, and clients from four cities enjoyed parties in water parks.

It's also a response to China's top political leader Xi Jinping's recent call to reject extravagance and reduce bureaucratic visits and meetings.

Linksus is not the only company to cancel the annual party.

Many government departments and State-owned enterprises canceled or cut the budgets of their year-end parties to echo Xi's call.

Netizens left several hundred posts about the cancelation of year-end parties on Sina Weibo, a popular micro-blogging platform. One netizen wrote: "Is there a more distressing thing than calling off the year-end party when it's going to be held soon?"

Deloitte Shanghai's office said that its annual general party has been canceled by the company executive. But there will be smaller parties for each department to celebrate a year of hard work.

"The year-end party market is flat due to the economic crisis as well as the government's new policy. State-owned companies are mainly affected by the policy, and other corporations because of economics," says Zhang Haiyong, general manager of Red Cursor Culture Media (Beijing) Co.

The company organizes year-end parties mainly for State-owned enterprises, private corporations, enterprises and institutions.

"Compared with last year, we have less business, and most corporations are spending less money on annual parties. For example, one company decreased its budget by more than 30 percent this year," Zhang says.

The company prepared about 20 year-end parties last year and Zhang had no time to rest, but now he has only a dozen parties to run.

He says small and medium-sized companies often spend 100,000 yuan on year-end parties, and big companies may spend about 1 million yuan.

According to Zhang, corporations mainly cut costs in two ways — renting a cheaper place and using less lighting, stereo systems and stage arts. But they will not lower the buffet's standards as they don't want to dampen the party's atmosphere.

"I'm considering exploring other markets because it's more and more difficult to do year-end party business," Zhang says.

Some companies, however, still organize their year-end parties with normal budgets .

"We were all looking forward to the party, which not only offers us an opportunity to showcase talent but also serves as a perfect platform for the management to communicate with staff," says Xie Lan, manager of the marketing department of training agency EF Education First in Beijing.

As for Zhou Quan, CEO of Yinchuangruicai Investment in Beijing, the year-end party is an opportunity to summarize 2012's work, express his gratitude to employees and motivate their passion for work.

More than 100 employees were invited to Sanya, Hainan province, to enjoy a five-day trip in a five-star hotel, with the annual award ceremony and year-end party.

Xu Junqian contributed to this story.

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