What Do Employees Really Want this Holiday Season?

December 15, 2017

Category: HR Tips & Trends

Office Gift Giving

The holidays are here and companies are starting to get creative about how they will embody the holiday spirit in their offices and with their teams. Year-end bonuses, gift exchanges, and team bonding meals are a few ideas that easily come to mind about how business leaders choose to express the holiday spirit this time of year. But what do employees really want during the holidays?

Here are the answers with data:

More Time Off, Please

During the holidays, schedules get tricky. With employees already having and taking more days off, logistics can be hard. However, this is a great time of year to acknowledge what the holidays are all about while allowing employees to more freely celebrate their lives and loved ones outside of the office. In a 2017 study by Randstad, more time off was the #1 one thing employees loved most during the holidays. A whopping 70% of employees confirmed this! But when it comes to vacation plans, 62% of employees plan to take time off during the holiday season, but 52% percent say their company gives no additional time off around the holidays.

I’m sure in most business minds, more time off means less production. However, that could very well not be the case. It’s proven that taking vacation is good for the brain, and because of this, employees tend to feel more engaged and happier at work when they do take vacation. This can lead to higher productivity when they’re at the office and healthier employees overall. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that isn’t required to provide paid time off to employees, but there is strong research showing that countries that require companies to designate paid time off can benefit in a boost in employee productivity. It might be time to consider allowing employees to take the days between Christmas and New Years to recharge for the greater good of the organization and the wellbeing of the people behind it.

Related: How-to: Throw Inclusive Holiday Celebrations

That Company Party

If the team is tossing around the idea of getting rid of the holiday party to make way for other initiatives, here are some things to consider before that decision is made. Only 3 years ago, Quantum Workplace found that employee morale was the lowest it has been in eight years. Despite an improving economy, people were just not excited.

How can companies boost morale in a realistic time efficient way? The company holiday party! Not only can a company party build culture and promote togetherness among employees, it can also boost morale significantly. With a whirlwind of a year behind the team, the company holiday party could be a good tool to give your employees the fuel they need to continue on with strength and in solidarity. In a survey by BizBash of over 1,500 event planners and administrative professionals, 7 out of 10 participants said that office holiday parties are important for the morale of a team. Parties, in fact, can be good for you.

Related: The Most Wonderful Time of Year…for Time Off Requests?

Giving Back

As important as the holiday party is, giving back to the community is one thing that may be able to top it.  An organization can participate in smaller volunteer events all year round or pull a Zenefits and donate the holiday party funds to a worthy cause in the local area. There are plenty of ways to build “giving back” into company culture on both a large and small scale, and the holidays are the perfect time to practice. A good idea? VTO or “Volunteer Time Off” as a way to allow employees to take time off to volunteer and serve their communities, something that is becoming increasingly more relevant to the millennial workforce. This does wonders. Annamarie Dunn, Sr. Group Director of Talent and Culture at Cadence, a San Jose based design enablement company, points out that “millennials are especially concerned with maintaining a healthy work/life balance…volunteering on company time helps them do that.”

Volunteering and other charitable acts have a huge impact on the people that perform them. Productivity increases when employees work together toward a common goal. In the 2011 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey, they found that among employed adults ages 21-35, those who frequently participate in workplace volunteer activities are almost twice as likely to be very satisfied with the progression of their career. Not only does this create a better world overall, it creates a better professional team.

All in all, the holidays are an amazing time to align with what employees genuinely want from their organizations. These are tried and true ways that positively impact the entire team and give the company life beyond the day-to-day work team members perform. Employees make an impact on the overall missions for their companies and work hard for their teams every day. Create a community out of a company by implementing these and watch employees soar beyond potential.

Office Holidays eBook


Having a fondness for psychology and creating engaging inclusive spaces, Diarra is fascinated by how company culture, tools, and processes impact the people that power them. Because she loves learning about how people function, she is intrigued by the dawn of employee-centric technology and company missions. With this kind of thinking, she applies empathy and education every day in her personal life as well as her role in sales at Zenefits.

Category: HR Tips & Trends

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