online shopping, office parties and gift exchanges, less popular among workers this holiday season
back to overviewNew Randstad Work Watch Survey Reveals Recession Has Affected Worker Attitudes
ATLANTA, 10.22.10 – Workers are not going online during work hours to buy holiday gifts this year, according to Randstad, a leading staffing firm and workforce solutions provider. The company’s new Work Watch survey, which tracks workers’ attitudes during the holiday season, revealed that 73 percent of workers do not plan on shopping online for gifts at work this year.
“There is no doubt that the recession has changed the way that workers think and act around the holidays,” says Eileen Habelow, Randstad’s senior vice president for organizational development. “Over the last couple of years, workers have witnessed companies cutting back benefits, time off and end-of-year perks. In response, workers are being more conscious of their time and productivity.”
The Office Party
As workers pay closer attention to how their companies handle activities related to the holiday season, one event gets more scrutiny: the holiday office party. According to the survey, holiday parties are generally viewed positively by employees; however, nearly all workers say they would be willing to give up the party if it meant more money in their own pockets. While roughly three quarters of workers feel that holiday parties help to build morale, more than nine out of ten employees (93 percent) would rather receive a bonus than have a holiday party this year. Interestingly, almost a third (29 percent) of respondents finds it inappropriate to host work parties during current economic times.
Attitudes toward work holiday parties do vary by age. Employees under 35 are more likely to view them as morale builders (83 percent) and a good reward for hard work (80 percent); while employees aged 55 and over – who presumably have attended many holiday parties in their lifetimes – are more likely to wish that the money for their office party would be donated to charity instead (59 percent).
“Once a popular tradition, the office holiday party doesn’t have the same appeal for workers today given recent layoffs and budget cuts,” says Habelow. "Organizations that decide to do something special for their employees cannot afford for it to backfire. Employers should tap into their employees’ opinions when planning any end-of- year activities or special perks and make sure it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Gift Giving at Work
Cutbacks don’t end at online shopping or the office party. Only 52 percent of employed adults say that they give gifts at work. Among these workers, most (41 percent) say it is because it’s the right thing to do. Only a small amount say that they give gifts at work because everyone else does (15 percent) or to earn points with superiors (six percent). Just seven percent of respondents say that not giving gifts to superiors or other co-workers is the biggest mistake one can make at work during the holidays.
“Workers don’t feel the pressure to give gifts to get in good with their boss or co-workers,” says Habelow. “Just as companies are being more frugal, workers are rethinking what’s necessary in terms of giving, spending and the holidays.”
Additional Survey Findings
- Among workers who plan to shop online for the holidays during work hours, four in ten (40 percent) plan to only spend an hour or two doing so, though a third (33 percent) plan to spend over five hours.
- Young workers under the age of 35 are almost three times as likely to plan on shopping online while at work than are those aged 55 and older (38 percent vs. 14 percent).
- While online holiday shopping during work hours is seen as the worst mistake to make across demographic groups, women are more likely to hold this view than are men (36 percent vs. 29 percent).
- Men are more likely than are women to say that they do not give gifts at work (53 percent vs. 43 percent). However, among those who do give gifts, men are more likely than women to say it is because they want to get in better with the boss (10 percent vs. 2 percent).
- Employed adults under 35 are more likely than those who are older to give gifts at work (59 percent vs. 49 percent), and are more likely to do so because it’s the right thing to do (46 percent) or to win over their superiors (12 percent).
For more information, please contact Christina Setser via email or 404.870.6829.
Abbreviated Survey Methodology
For the survey, a national sample of 1,008 adults aged 18 and older who are currently employed from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online. The poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, August 16-19, 2010. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. population of working adults according to U.S. Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.
A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire population of employed adults aged 18 and older in the U.S. been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error, and measurement error. Total percentages may add up to more than 100% due to rounding.