Hold the Champagne



With cutbacks and layoffs hitting the optical industry hard, it looks as though most companies have scaled back plans for year-end holiday celebrations, according to interviews with some leading optical companies, in addition to feedback collected from this month’s Light Work Poll, Happy Holidays 2001?

Thirty-seven percent of those who have responded to the poll say that they don’t expect their companies to have a holiday party for them this year. Only 15 percent of respondents said their company did nothing for the holidays last year.

It comes as little surprise that companies would be loath to spend heavily on parties, given the scale of cutbacks and layoffs in the industry.

But to put things in perspective, some companies have never celebrated the holidays with their employees. Take Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) as a prime example. According to a spokesperson, the company has never spent money on holiday celebrations and this year will be no different.

Even those companies that still plan to deck the halls seem to be trimming expenses on such celebrations. Last year, some optical networking employees could expect a black-tie affair, complete with a full dinner and open bar. This year, it looks as though employees are more likely to don fuzzy Santa hats from Wal-Mart and eat cheese cubes in the company snack room.

Forty percent of respondents say that last year their company spent between $21 and $100 per person for some sort of holiday celebration. Only 24 percent say they expect such a party this year. Eighteen percent say that their company spent between $101 and $200 per head for their party last year. Only 6 percent say they expect their company to spend that much on their party this year.

Last year, 8 percent say their company spent less than $20 per person on their party. This year, three times as many people, or 25 percent, say they expect to wassail at less than $20 per.

Some companies are still going ahead with big holiday parties. Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV), which recently laid off about 300 employees and announced a new restructuring plan, says it still plans to have a semi-formal holiday party for its 1,200 current employees at the Baltimore Convention Center (see Corvis Stock Slips on Q3 Report). Last year, the company had a similar party for its 1,452 employees at a local hotel. Likewise, Unisphere Networks Inc., which has more employees than last year (820 employees now vs. 700 at the end of 2000), plans to have a dinner event at a local hotel.

Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR), which recently laid off about 25 percent of its staff, says that celebrations this year will definitely be “different” from last year (see Sycamore Enters Crisis Mode). A company spokesperson would not discuss the details. But one might expect the holiday celebration to be dialed back when many former co-workers are still looking for jobs.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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