Spreading holiday cheer

Managers most likely to give cash at Christmas

More than half of managers will be spreading holiday cheer around the office this year by giving presents to their employees, according to a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com and ShopLocal.

While one third of bosses who will purchase gifts plan to spend $10 US or less per staff member, one in five expect to spend more than $25 US and nearly one in ten expect to spend more than $50 US.

Twenty-nine per cent of workers will reciprocate the gesture, with those making less than $50,000 US being the most likely to buy holiday gifts for their bosses. The survey, Holidays at the Office, was completed in September and included 1,650 workers and 1,150 hiring managers across the United States.


While more than half of employers plan to give holiday gifts to their staff, nine per cent said they feel obligated to do so. Female managers are more likely to holiday shop with 62 per cent planning to buy gifts for their staffs, compared to 51 per cent of male managers.

The amount employers, in U.S. dollars, said they spend on each employee for holiday gifts is:

• 11 per cent - $5 or less per person

• 22 per cent - $6 to $10

• 16 per cent - $11 to $15

• 13 per cent - $16 to $20

• 16 per cent - $21 to $25

• 13 per cent - $26 to $50

• nine per cent - $51 and or more

Cash ranked highest on office shopping lists. Fifty-two per cent of managers plan to give gift cards, gift certificates or money to their staff members. Twenty-three per cent will fuel holiday indulgences with gifts of candy while 21 per cent will buy their staffs holiday ornaments or decorations. Other popular gifts are books (15 per cent), wine/alcohol (13 per cent), food baskets (12 per cent) and gag gifts (11 per cent).


Nearly three-in-ten workers plan to buy holiday gifts for their bosses with five per cent feeling obligated to do so. Female employees are more likely to holiday shop with 39 per cent planning to buy gifts for their bosses compared to 16 per cent of men. Thirty-five per cent of workers said they will buy for other co-workers.

The study also found the more an employee makes, the less likely he is to spend it on the boss. Twenty-three per cent of workers with incomes over $100,000 US and 27 per cent of those with incomes between $50,000 US and $100,000 US said they will buy a gift for their boss compared to 34 per cent of workers who earn less than $50,000 US.

Gift cards, gift certificates or money topped the shopping lists for 38 per cent of employees buying for their bosses. Food baskets and wine/alcohol tied for second most popular at 13 per cent. Business card holders, paperweights or other office items came in third at 12 per cent.

Some of the most unusual gifts a co-worker had received included:

• Gift certificate to a strip club

• A voodoo doll

• Underwear

• What Would Jesus Do? bracelet

• Used makeup

• Bottle of vodka for a recovering alcoholic

Tips for gift-giving at the office

Ask around. Companies have different policies when it comes to gift-giving at the office. Some may restrict dollar value amounts or outright prohibit gifts. Check with HR and ask other employees how gift-giving was handled in the office in previous years.

Err on the conservative. The best of intentions can turn into the worst of consequences if the recipient of the gift feels it is offensive or inappropriate. The safest bets are to stay with classic items such as portfolios, books, picture frames, food baskets, etc. And remember to stay away from religious themes.

Consider charities. Thirty-eight per cent of workers said their office gets involved in charitable activities including Toys for Tots, adopt a family or adopt a classroom and group volunteering. Instead of buying a present for your boss or co-worker, make a charitable donation in his/her name for those in need.

Quality counts. Closeouts and clearance sales can be tempting, but beware of dead batteries, cheap construction and spoiled goods. If you want to make a lasting impression, make sure it's a positive one.

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