Christmas is right around the corner, and that means one thing for employees: office Christmas parties.
Around the world it’s pretty common for offices to participate in their own “Secret Santa” gift exchanges, but according to Jobsite, based in the U.K., millennials aren’t very excited about this tradition.
Here’s what they found (enjoy the British phrases):
Secret Santa and other office ‘whip-round’ occasions have come under the spotlight today, as new research from UK job board Jobsite found that younger workers are feeling so pressured to contribute that they are dipping into their savings or going into debt in order to chip in.
The Jobsite report revealed that three quarters (73%) of office workers aged between 23-38 have regularly contributed more than they could afford to an office celebration, compared to over half of the UK population (58%). The financial strain of contributing to activities such as ‘Secret Santa’ and presents for birthdays and promotions can be so severe that 26% of younger workers have either dipped into their savings or gone into their overdraft to contribute.
The report investigated how much and how often UK office workers are invited to ‘chip-in’ for an office celebration – ranging from birthdays and work anniversaries to engagements, promotions and even seasonal events such as ‘Secret Santa’.
On average, we spend our own money on office occasions such as birthdays, engagements and Secret Santas 15 times a year. Birthday celebrations take the largest slice of cake, with workers forking out an average of five times a year. Employees spend an average of £99 every year on gifts for our co-workers. A stunning £4,667 over the course of our careers.
Shockingly, Millennial workers see their contributions add to 34% more, with a total of £151 per year spent on 17 colleagues celebrations, which represents £7,111 over a career.
Just under a quarter of younger employees (22% aged 23-38) said they felt angry at the person organising the whip-round for not considering their financial situation, some are even being ‘called out’ on the amount they have contributed. 17% have also experienced allegations of stinginess relating to their contribution, resulting in a sense of shame within the workplace.
Here’s the thing, I’m a millennial. These are my people. This doesn’t shock me in the slightest.
Millennials complaining about having to contribute is like saying the sky is blue. It’s obvious. Young people are selfish with their money. They also don’t want to be called selfish. It’s a tight rope to walk, but somehow they manage to survive.
The study goes on to say that “the majority (61%) of UK office workers think they are good for morale, 60% believe they help build a healthy rapport amongst colleagues and a further 64% assert that gifting between employees is a sign of respect and appreciation.” Basically, giving gifts to others is good because it’s nice.
Dr Ashley Weinberg, an expert in workplace psychology at the University of Salford added his thoughts on the report:
“The giving and receiving of gifts is a natural part of our make-up as social animals. In fact, the basis of most of our face-to-face communication relies on taking turns and understanding the unwritten rules which underpin it. The workplace is an obvious testing ground for our ability to negotiate, but we don’t always feel we have the power to say ‘no’ and we should.
Having the chance to share our appreciation of colleagues and to celebrate positive events is really valuable – just as long as this is done fairly. Workplace organisations can play a positive part in this, whether helping to suggest sensible parameters or even by setting the ball rolling with a contribution to collections for employees.”
Giving gifts is great. The thing is, people are complaining over things outside of their control. They are upset that their gifts aren’t received how they had hoped. They are sometimes shamed for giving bad gifts (or not giving gifts at all).
Alexandra Sydney, Marketing Director at Jobsite, adds:
“While the act of giving and celebrating personal milestones like birthdays and weddings can bring teams together, our research shows that we should be mindful in how we approach monetary contributions to these events. For those who are part of bigger teams, or who are more junior and therefore have a lower income, it may simply not be feasible to contribute to every celebration.”
Why do I feel like I’m in kindergarten? Obviously, if someone can’t afford a gift they shouldn’t spend money on a gift. There’s no shame in that. Sometimes people go through financial struggles.
People are too afraid to speak up. They fear embarrassment, and refuse to act in their best interest in hope of avoiding shame.
If you can’t afford buying a gift for a friend or coworker, that’s one thing… If you just want to be a Grinch, well, that’s not very nice.