“Tis the season to be merry” or is it? Staffing firm Randstad recently released a survey detailing employees workplace preferences and attitudes towards the festive season. For some, it really is the most joyous time of the year but for others, it’s a minefield of whom to buy a gift for and make small talk with at the year-end holiday party.
The survey gathered responses from over a thousand employees over the age of 18 in the USA.
An overwhelming 70% of workers surveyed said what they loved most about the holidays was “time off” and 34% indicated getting a bonus as their favourite part. However, only 11% like traditions such as cookie swaps and 9% enjoy gift exchanges. Despite these, “holiday spirit in the workplace” (54%) and “happier/more generous co-workers” (41%) still remain important for most people. And three-quarters of respondents said they felt it important their company engages in charitable initiatives like food drives and other donations.
What this data suggests is that what employees most value in the workplace is centred around relationships and creating meaningful bonds than structured celebrations or the activities themselves. Which brings us to holiday office parties.
Although most employees remain neutral about holiday parties when given an option 90% said they would prefer extra vacation days or a bonus instead of a party. Meanwhile, 62% of people surveyed said they felt obliged to attend their employer’s holiday party with younger employees feeling more pressured to attend; 74% of 18-24-year-olds and 69% of 25-34-year-olds felt obligated compared to just over half (51%) of workers over the age of 65.
While employees are more giving to those less fortunate during the holiday season this doesn’t necessarily extend to their colleagues. Almost half 47% 18-24 year-olds and 25-35 year-olds agreed that their company should engage in some philanthropic endeavour while 31% of 50-64 year-olds said the same. Just 28% of respondents said they bought their boss a gift while the majority (61%) were a little more Scrooge than Santa and said they do not give any holiday gifts at work.
Even though the holidays are meant to be a time to relax, recharge and spend time with family the survey revealed work still remains top of mind for many even if they are not in the office, 63% of workers said they still check their email when on vacation and 31% said they check in with the office because they feel it makes them appear more diligent. While most people 62% intend to take a vacation over the Christmas break, 52% of employees said their company gives no extra time off and 28% admitted to using paid sick days instead of applying for leave at the end of the year.