‘Tis the Season — A Potpourri of Workplace Holiday Practices

December 11, 2017 Teresa Wilkins

Thanksgiving kicked off the holiday season and put company holiday practices front and center in employers’ minds. As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to firm up bonuses, staff schedules, pay, gift-giving and, of course, the proverbial office party.  Here’s what’s in store for this holiday season:

Holiday bonuses – A recent survey by Accounting Principals says that 63% of employers are giving employees holiday cash this year, with bonuses averaging $1,000. From the employer perspective, a holiday bonus both acknowledges outstanding performers and incentivizes other employees. From an employee perspective, the infusion of cash alleviates financial stress during the holidays. If you don’t get a cash bonus, don’t despair – many companies are giving other perks or making charitable donations instead. What does it take for an employee to receive a year-end bonus?  The top two tips from HR professionals:  stay more motivated throughout the year and be more positive and upbeat.

Holiday work schedules and compensation – This year, 48% of companies will give workers three or more paid days off for the holidays, a practice similar to the last time national holidays fell on a Monday. In Bloomberg BNA’s (BBNA) Year End Holiday Practices study, 34% of employers will require certain employees to work on the holidays, but they’ll be well rewarded. Employers will use one of the following common holiday pay practices: double-time pay, time-and-a-half pay, comp time and regular pay, or extra pay and comp time.

Gifts from business associates – This is always a sticky situation. According to the BBNA’s holiday practice study, most companies’ best practices include a gift acceptance policy, with the two most common mandates: permit workers to accept gifts of “nominal” value or don’t permit employees to accept gifts at all.

Charitable donations – BBNA’s holiday practices survey says, in keeping with the holiday spirit of giving, most firms plan to sponsor a charitable activity with toys, food or clothes donations on the top of the list.

Office parties – When it comes to celebrating, most employers step up to the plate, pay the cost in full, agree to hold the festivities off-site and outside normal business hours, and allow workers to invite spouses and guests. When alcohol is served, best practices include have the bartender or others monitor the drinks and, if necessary, arrange for a cab/ridesharing service – and don’t forget your office party etiquette, here are a few tips from the pros:

  • Arrive early
  • Don’t overdrink
  • Network with colleagues
  • Don’t talk business

Putting it all into perspective, despite the added stress of the year-end, most employers try to get into the holiday spirit by providing bonuses, charitable donations, extra pay, time off, or throwing a party. Whether or not you are employed in a city with the happiest workers during the holidays, one thing is true – most everyone looks forward to celebrating the New Year.

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