While some employees consider the holidays the most wonderful time of the year, others find it fraught with tricky questions, such as whether or not to give gifts to colleagues or how to survive the office Christmas party.

A recent survey by staffing and recruitment firm Ranstad polled more than 1,200 American employees to learn about their attitudes and preferences about the holiday season in the workplace. When asked to identify what they loved most about the holidays, 70 per cent of respondents said time off was at the top of their wish list. More than half (54 per cent) of respondents look forward to holiday spirit in the workplace, 41 per cent ranked happier, more generous co-workers and 34 per cent cited receiving their bonus at their favourite thing about the holidays.

Read: How can employers encourage employees to take vacation?

While 75 per cent of respondents said it’s important that their companies participate in holiday philanthropic initiatives like food drives or charitable donations, familiar workplace holiday traditions like cookie swaps (11 per cent) and gift exchanges (nine per cent) were lower priority.

The vast majority (90 per cent) of respondents said they’d prefer a bonus or extra vacation days than have a holiday party in the workplace. However, 62 per cent of respondents agreed they feel obligated to attend their employer’s holiday party, though younger employees feel more pressure to attend — 74 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 and 69 per cent of those aged 25 to 34, compared to 51 per cent of those over age 65.

Read: Younger employees prioritize ‘purpose’ of work before pay, benefits: report

While employees are big on company philanthropic initiatives, according to the survey, they’re less likely to get in the giving spirit when it comes to their colleagues. Some 61 per cent of respondents said they don’t give out holiday gifts in the workplace, but 28 per cent said they feel obligated to buy their boss a holiday gift.

For most employees, the holidays mean taking time off to spend with family and friends, but the survey found work is still on their minds. The majority (62 per cent) of respondents said they plan to take vacation during the holiday season, but 52 per cent said their company provides no additional time off around the holidays.

While on holiday, 63 per cent of respondents still check their email and 31 per cent check in with the office. More than a quarter (28 per cent) of respondents admit to using paid sick days instead of their vacation time at the end of the year. And nearly a third admit to job searching during the holidays since it’s usually a less hectic time of year.

Read: Employees don’t feel festive in the festive season

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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