Santa faces redundancy as staff see Christmas as a chore

Dec 03 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A 'Scrooge culture' seems to be overtaking Britain's workplaces as a new survey finds that many executives are fed up with Christmas and think that office parties are hard work, disruptive and dull.

In fact, if a seasonal survey by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is to be believed, the ‘spirit of goodwill’ no longer extends to the workplace at all as employees reject traditional ways of marking the season’s celebrations with colleagues.

Evidence of the demise of Christmas cheer is topped by a decline in the number of Christmas parties. Only six out of 10 firms claim to be having an office party compared with more than eight out of 10 in 2002.

One in 10 of the managers surveyed said that the reason for this decline is "a lack of enthusiasm", with one in five admitting that Christmas celebrations are a chore

More than a third complained that seasonal festivities created problems because colleagues or clients were inaccessible. With nearly two-thirds of respondents away from work for four days or more, complaints centred on problems with payments and staff shortages.

Another sign of Christmas fatigue is a sharp decline in giving gifts to colleagues. A mere one in 10 will be handing out goodies this year, down from almost a quarter in 2003.

Santa will also be climbing down fewer workplace chimneys this year, with only one in five organisations running mystery gift schemes, compared with one in four a year ago

At the heart of the backlash seems to be the fact that half of us think that today's Christmas celebrations simply drag on too long and a third find them disruptive.

Indeed only 15 per cent want to use the festival as an opportunity to entertain key business contacts, with few believing the celebrations improve morale.

Petra Cook, head of policy at the CMI, said: "The idea that Christmas creates pressure and tension in the workplace is worrying, particularly as it has traditionally been seen as a time to reward staff for the hard work they do during the year."

However, the survey did reveal one upside to Christmas. Almost one in five view the festive period as a chance to 'recharge their batteries', and almost half said it also provides a much-needed chance to see friends and family.

Cook adds: "It's important that instead of focusing on what people don't want to do, managers take the time to find out what their staff want.

"After all, environments where the emphasis is on "all work and no play" are unlikely to be energetic and productive."