- Appreciation at Work recently released a survey asking 1,200 of its readers to answer questions about what bothers them during the holiday season. The top two out of 15 options: 28% hate the pressure to get year-end tasks done, and 23% dislike the “white elephant” gift exchanges.
- Many of the other bothersome items on the list appeared because employees were pressured to participate. These items included “Secret Santa” exchanges, after hours holiday celebrations, or holiday luncheons in which they had to bring the food.
- Dr. Paul White of Appreciation at Work offered four ways employers can ease employee annoyance: Leave ample time for employees to work on year-end tasks; don’t force your employees to participate in gift giving exchanges; be sensitive to scheduling issues during the holidays and if you are going to have a workplace celebratory meal, provide the food.
While more obvious annoyances also made the list (18% chose “having to work on holidays”), supposedly fun holiday activities can only increase workplace awkwardness if an employer is not careful. A total of 70% of employees in general dislike being part of gift exchanges, for example.
The survey also revealed some employee horror stories, including: mandatory participation in an alcohol-laden corporate “party bus,” noting that recovering alcoholics were not excused; a “Chinese Christmas” exchange where a boss threatened a poor evaluation if anyone stole her present; and Christmas staff lunches that turn out to be public staff performance reviews
Holidays can be a strange time for many, and employers can help their workers by expressing empathy, being appreciative and thankful and keeping everything optional.
“Holidays are supposed to be a happy time, but when bosses combine ‘forced fun’ with expectations that impact employee’s finances and eat into their personal time – it’s a toxic combination that often results in negative attitudes, the opposite of what was intended,” White said.