Xmas cheer in short supply

Dec 05 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Organisations across the UK are less likely to be throwing Christmas parties this year or giving staff a bonus. Nevertheless, a seasonal survey has found that employees are creating their own festive cheer – often rather too enthusiastically.

The research by the Chartered Management Institute. reveals that despite expectations, almost eight out of ten organisations no longer give staff a Christmas bonus and more than half require staff to work during the festive period.

This lack of merriment is a growing trend, as twelve months ago almost nine out of ten of the managers questioned said that their organisation throws a Christmas party, compared to two-thirds this year.

Of those companies willing to host festivities, two-thirds demand that staff contribute to events. Over three-quarters ask employees to pay £20 or more towards workplace celebrations, but requests for contributions differ widely across regions. Fewer than six out of ten employees in Yorkshire are asked to put their hand in their pocket, compared to almost eight out of ten in the South West.

The research also shows that organisations fear business will suffer during the run up to Christmas because of a tendency to party. Over one in five specifically claim ‘morning after’ absenteeism as a problem and one-third reveal concerns over staff shortages and supplier payments.

"Christmas may only come once a year, but it is a regular event which should be planned for,” says Karen Charlesworth, head of research at the Institute. “Rather than bemoan potential disruption, organisations should make provisions and consider the long-term benefit of showing appreciation to their staff.”

The research revealed that despite an apparent lack of Christmas cheer within UK workplaces, many managers and their staff seek to create their own festive fun. Over seven out of ten share gifts at work, and one in four participate in a ‘Secret Santa’ lucky dip.

And while more than one in ten managers also claim to receive gifts from their colleagues, almost four times more women than men admit to buying gifts specifically for their boss.

Employers in the charity sector are the most likely to use the Christmas period to build team spirit. Over two-thirds give staff time off without counting it against an individual’s annual holiday allowance. However, reflecting the fears of disruption to business, fewer than one in three manufacturing sector employees provide holiday time in addition to core entitlement.

"The idea of giving may not be strong within organisational cultures, but it is alive and well amongst managers and their staff," says Charlesworth. "Most people exchange gifts because they want to, not because they have to. It’s a simple way of showing appreciation for each other’s efforts at work and can go a long way towards creating a close-knit team."