As tempting as it may be to skip out on the forced fun and awkward colleague camaraderie that is a company holiday party, you should suck it up and go.
We get it. This isn't what you wanted to hear. You already give 40-plus hours a week to your company. You already see your coworkers all the time and you're not even sure you like most of them during work hours. You don't want to talk to your boss about his daughter's dance class and the open bar seems to be incapable of making a decent drink.
All of that is irrelevant.
What matters is what is expected of you by your employer. Because if you signed on to a company that prizes such events as part of its company culture, you need to attend.
"Whether you have to go to your holiday party depends on the company culture," says Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. "There are certain organizations where your absence could be a career-limiting move. If it's a place where you are expected to participate in all work matters and outside events, someone who is missing stands out."
This is especially true if your employer treats their parties more as end-of-year events at which service awards, bonuses or other announcements are presented. It then becomes a literal work event, says Taylor.
Another thing to consider is how senior your role is. If you're not the head of the company, but still fairly high up, you should definitely go, says Taylor.
"Senior leadership is expected to be the standard-bearer of the company culture. You're expected to live its principles," says Taylor. "I don't like parties. I try talking my employees out of them, but they want them and so I attend them. And even though I'm not a party guy, I do expect senior management to show up. I'm not taking notes on who isn't there, but it isn't lost on me who comes and who doesn't."
At companies where attendance is expected, skipping can have big negative consequences. Sure, you won't be fired for missing it. But you risk appearing disconnected from your job and unwilling to be part of the team. That could lead your managers to conclude that you're not ready for a title change or additional responsibilities, since you don't seem willing to do what it takes to be a part of the company, says Taylor.