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Employees hate compulsory gift-giving; tell tales of festivities that turn into performance reviews
Right about now, HR offices across the nation are likely finalizing plans for workplace holiday parties that may include a white elephant or secret Santa gift exchange.
So they may be interested to learn that despite all their efforts to promote merriment and camaraderie, almost 3 in 4 employees can’t stand compulsory gift-giving at work, according to a survey from the consultancy Appreciation at Work.
In fact, compulsory gift-giving tops the list for most hated holiday workplace practices, according to the online survey of almost 1,300 U.S. workers between Nov. 30 and Dec. 2.
“Holidays are supposed to be a happy time, but when bosses combine ‘forced fun’ with expectations that impact employees’ finances and eat into their personal time, it’s a toxic combination that often results in negative attitudes—the opposite of what was intended,” said psychologist and author Paul White.
Seventy percent of survey respondents reported feeling pressured by compulsory gift-giving at work. Twenty-three percent said they hate white elephant gift exchanges, 21 percent disliked secret Santa exchanges, and 22 percent were unhappy that they’re expected to buy gifts for co-workers and bosses at all.
One in 5 were displeased that they had to give up personal time for “attendance-expected” holiday parties held after hours.
More than 500 survey participants submitted anecdotes about workplace holiday horror stories, including these:
Advice for employers who want to make sure employees are enjoying the holiday season, even if they must also work?
“Leave ample time for employees to work on the extra year-end tasks and reports, don't force workers to participate in gift-giving exchanges—explicitly or implicitly—and be sensitive to scheduling issues and time requirements during the holidays,” White said.
Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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