Employees resisting pressure and 'inappropriateness' of Tet parties

By Hai Hien, Quynh Nguyen   February 6, 2024 | 08:57 pm PT
Employees resisting pressure and 'inappropriateness' of Tet parties
Many office workers feel pressured to consume alcohol or engage in musical performances during their company's annual year-end celebration. Illustration photo by Freepik
For a whole week, Khanh Ngoc pretended to limp to work, constantly complaining that her legs hurt so she wouldn't have to practice dance performances in preparation for her company’s year-end party.

The 25-year-old girl residing in Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi, works as a marketing employee for a petrochemical company.

She said working overtime is not as scary as being selected for the performance team to compete with other departments – an activity that she considers to be tiring and time-consuming. She had to practice intensely outside of work hours for a month just to do a 3-5 minute dance performance last year.

In previous years, Ngoc was always put on the performance list by the department head because she was newly employed and unmarried. Feeling annoyed, this year she decided to pretend to have a leg injury before the performance team list was finalized.

Duc Minh, 37, in Ho Chi Minh City, is also not interested in his company's year-end party.

According to him, parties used to be simple, where everyone could meet and connect after a year of work.

But he said that now attendees are constantly forced to drink alcohol, and the performance part is often considered inappropriate.

"A few days ago at our year-end party, the company even hired a group of dancers to dress in revealing clothes and perform on stage," Minh said. "It was supposed to be a party, but it felt more like a bar – so loud that I couldn’t hear anything even if I shouted."

Khanh Ngoc and Duc Minh are among the 28% of people who "absolutely do not like year-end parties," according into VnExpress’ latest survey of 1,500 readers. Some 47% of those in the survey felt "indifferent to the party", and only 25% said they liked it.

On social media, many posts lamenting year-end parties have received a lot of sympathy.

Not only in Vietnam, a 2023 year-end report from the online recruitment platform Lagou in China also showed that 54% of people surveyed expressed reluctance when it comes to company parties. The main reason was a dislike of communication, while one third of the interviewees also blamed the pressure to perform.

With nearly 20 years in the field of human resource management at large corporations in Hanoi, Vu Thanh Ha said that every time she organizes a year end party for employees, many people complain or refuse to participate.

"The most commonly given reason is the large amount of year-end work that needs to be done. Besides, there are too many parties with friends and family to mark the same occasion, causing people to overeat, and making them reluctant when it comes to company parties," Ha said.

Psychologist Trinh Trung Hoa said that workers' lives are increasingly improving, so organizing meals at restaurants or hotels does not create as much excitement as before.

Older employees do not like to participate in exciting activities, while some others have to prepare for their own family holiday celebrations so they make excuses for not having time. Finally, being forced by their superiors to perform dances makes them feel pressured and tired.

Bich Hanh, a communications officer in Cau Giay district, Hanoi, said she was "afraid of year end parties" because the agency usually holds them for two days and one night in far-away provinces. The most troublesome thing is that it happens near Tet, and booking a ticket to return home is difficult when Hanh's family is in the central province of Ha Tinh, 400 km from Hanoi.

"The party has to be registered a month in advance, so If you don't participate, you might risk getting a bad evaluation at the end of the year – which affects your salary and bonus," Hanh said.

Associate Professor. Dr. Do Minh Cuong, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Association of Business Culture Development, said that it is easy for these kinds of problems to create stubbornness and rebelliousness among cohorts where teamwork is paramount.

Such has been the case for Khanh Ngoc, who after many years of being forced to perform for parties made her developed a rebellious mindset, forcing her to think of every way to avoid participating. "Even if I had to pretend to be disabled for a whole month, I would still accept it because this is a way for me to have time to deal with work and rest, instead of practicing hard for no benefit," Ngoc said.

As for Duc Minh, after attending many "inappropriate" parties, he refused to participate in the company's year-end party in the coming years. He plans to instead invite close colleagues to organize a small, intimate, and cozy party before the Tet holiday.

In order not to put pressure on employees when participating in the year-end party, Thanh Ha emphasized that the most important thing is that employees volunteer for the party.

She said the department organizing the event should also create something new to attract employees, such as inviting famous singers and professional hosts, and create more opportunities for everyone to interact. If there are competitive activities between departments, the company can increase the value of the prizes and give attractive gifts so that everyone has the motivation to participate.

Dr. Cuong said that employees themselves also need to express their personal opinions about the company's year-end party.

"If you like it or not, you must explain clearly how to improve the quality and efficiency of company events. Avoid wasting money and making yourself angry because of it – which can adversely affect your team at work," Cuong said.

go to top