Weekly Wrap: Workplace Holiday “Gifts” – If You Stretch the Definition

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Leave it to the most recent CareerBuilder annual holiday survey to zero in on a completely meaningless but totally fascinating bit of workplace intelligence — the most unusual gifts they have received from a co-worker during the holiday season.

See if you agree that these are, as CareerBuilder’s press release puts it, a creative “definition of the word ‘gift:’ ”

  • A box of Hot Pockets;
  • A chess piece (just one piece, not a set);
  • A fire extinguisher;
  • A voucher for a free lawn game of the co-worker’s own invention;
  • A turquoise leather vest;
  • Zombie action figures;
  • A Ziploc bag with coffee (enough to make one pot);
  • A “gun of the day” calendar;
  • A bag of chips (attention Tim Sackett — this one is for you!);
  • A Christmas ornament with the co-worker’s and spouse’s photos on it.

OK, that’s the fun stuff, but here is the more relevant insight into the state of holiday gift-giving on the job, courtesy of the CareerBuilder Holiday Survey:

  • 21 percent of workers say they plan to buy holiday gifts for co-workers (similar to last year, 22 percent);
  • 20 percent of employees say they plan to buy a gift for the boss;
  • Of those who plan to buy gifts for their co-workers or bosses, the majority (76 percent) expect to spend $25 or less on each gift, 33 percent will spend $10 or less, and 10 percent will spend $5 or less.

Other workplace holiday trends 

And according to the survey, more employers “plan to offer holiday perks in the form of parties, bonuses and gifts this year than in years’ past.”

  • Parties: 63 percent of employers say they plan to throw company holiday parties this year, up from 59 percent in 2013 and 60 percent in 2012. Though two in five workers say they plan to attend the office holiday party, the overwhelming majority (96 percent) say they would prefer a holiday bonus over a company bash (4 percent).  Makes you wonder what is going on with those 4 percent.
  • Bonuses: Some employees, however, may get their bonus wish after all. Nearly half of employers (47 percent) plan to give employees a holiday bonus this year, up from 45 percent in 2013. More than one in 10 employers say they will give a larger bonus than last year (11 percent).
  • Gifts:  Some 40 percent of employers (40 percent) will give employees gifts this year (up from 35 percent in 2013), and 42 percent will give charitable donations.

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,203 hiring managers and human resource professionals, and 3,103 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between ­­Aug.11 and Sept. 5, 2014  With pure probability samples of 2,203 and 3,103, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have sampling errors of +/- 2.09 and +/-1.76 percentage points, respectively.

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I’m keeping the Weekly Wrap short this week since I am traveling, but I’ll make sure to get one more in before we start counting down the “Best of TLNT” posts for the year starting on Christmas Day.

I’ll make sure to catch up on all those interesting workplace stories I’m seeing the next time around. 

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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