Smaller employers are much more to be generous when it comes to rewarding workers with gifts and parties at Christmas, a survey has concluded.
The study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's has found three-quarters of firms employing up to 49 staff will pay for a Christmas party and 13 per cent will provide a gift.
By contrast, only two-fifth of firms employing more than 5,000 staff will stump up for a party and just 2 per cent a gift.
The survey, the preliminary findings of the CIPD's much larger annual reward study, due to be published next year, also found that 64 per cent of employers meet the majority or most of the cost of a Christmas party or lunch.
But only 13 per cent now provide a Christmas gift such as a hamper or vouchers.
Charles Cotton, CIPD reward and employment conditions adviser, said, "Size is certainly something that matters when it comes to Christmas. Smaller firms are far more likely to behave like Santa and dish out presents and parties.
"But Christmas gifts alone will not prevent employees from leaving. Employers should consider reward throughout the working year, thinking creatively and selecting a strategy relevant to both the business and employees needs in order to retain and motivate employees," he added.
Private sector service employers were the most generous, with 82 per cent likely to provide a Christmas party or lunch.
A total of 71 per cent of the manufacturing and production firms provide a Christmas party or lunch, compared with 66 per cent of voluntary sector organisations and just 21 per cent of public sector employers.
Manufacturing and production companies were more likely to provide a gift, with 21 per cent doing so, compared with 15 per cent in the private sector, 13 per cent in the voluntary sector and none in the public sector.
"The good news for smaller employers is that it doesn't matter if you can't always match the financial rewards of the big boys," said Cotton.
"What counts is the total reward offering and the non-financial rewards, such as being a good employer and providing a nice place to work, which are often overlooked by bigger firms. Sometimes not doing the little things can make employers look like Scrooge and affect the way employees feel about work," he added.
Organisations with 50-249 employees were the most generous, with 84 per cent likely to provide a Christmas party or lunch, and 19 per cent providing a gift such as a hamper or voucher. Many organisations were planning Christmas parties and although more than half had an alcohol policy it tended to be forgotten or simply ignored at this time of year.
"If it is your first Christmas party with your employer take your cue from your managers," warned Cotton.
"If they are not letting their hair down, make sure you behave sensibly as well. Remember these events are a really good opportunity to meet new people and network, so try to talk to people you don't normally work with," he added.