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What Do Candidates Really Want This Holiday Season — and Are They Getting It?

coloreddotsWhile it’s true that many companies have been forced to make difficult business decisions this year, many employers still plan to reward their employees for hard work with holiday perks like bonuses, gifts and parties — even if these perks are scaled back a bit. These results are from CareerBuilder’s recent survey about workplace holiday giving among more than 3,000 hiring managers and HR professionals. We’ve got the lowdown on what businesses are doing about bonuses, gifts, and the oft-infamous work holiday party.

Bonuses:

  • Nearly three in ten (29 percent) employers plan to give their employees holiday bonuses this year.  Among that group, 16 percent are planning to give the same amount as in previous years, while 11 percent plan to give less.
  • Twelve percent of employers say they will not be issuing holiday bonuses even though they have in previous years.

Gifts:

  • More than a quarter (26 percent) of employers plan to give holiday gifts, with 15 percent planning to spend the same amount for workers as in previous years.  Eight percent plan to spend less.
  • Another eight percent say they are not planning to give holidays gifts in 2009, even though they have in years past.

Parties:

  • Almost half (49 percent) of employers are planning a holiday party for their employees this year.  Of that group, 30 percent plan to throw the same party as in previous years, while 18 percent are planning something on a smaller scale.
  • Eleven percent of employers don’t plan to have a holiday party in 2009 even though they have in previous years.

“After a challenging year, some organizations are cutting back on the holiday perks that they may have offered in previous years,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder. “Even though holiday bonuses, gifts and parties may be trimmed back this season, employers are doing what they can to reward their workers and get their staffs in the holiday spirit.”

So with cutbacks more prevalent in the workplace,  how can you make your employees happy this holiday season? What do they really want?

Here are some alternative workplace gift-giving ideas:

  • The gift of financial preparedness. Help employees be realistic in their holiday budgeting this holiday season. Workers often need to budget more carefully around the holidays, so let your employees know upfront and early whether or not they can expect a bonus this season. This way, they will be able to gauge whether they’ll have that extra money for a plane ticket — or whether they’ll have to stock up on canned soups for dinner this season. Give your employees the gift of preparedness; their pocketbooks will thank you.
  • The gift of giving. Volunteering is a great workplace activity all year ’round, but if you’re looking for an alternative to the typical (and pricey) holiday bash, I can’t think of a better way than helping others in need by donating time to local charities.  Volunteering with your team or company still allows you to be out of the office in a social setting while fostering your holiday spirit, giving back to your local community, and making the holiday a bit nicer for someone else. Sites like VolunteerMatch let you search for volunteer opportunities in your local area. Read more tips about finding a charity here and here, find an extensive list of charities here, and check out the Better Business Bureau’s “Charities and Donors” section for more resources.
  • The gift of fun. Even if your company holiday party is canceled, you can still  celebrate the season with your employees with some warm drinks and hot food. Office potlucks are a great and budget-friendly way to have a low-key celebration in the office with your employees. Even better, as commuting after work hours can sometimes present obstacles for employees, you can host a potluck breakfast or lunch during the work day. As an alternative, screen a movie of your employees’ choosing, pop some popcorn and provide sodas, and have a low-key but entertaining in-office party.
  • The gift of appreciation. While material gifts are nice, sometimes nothing is better than getting a bit of recognition for work well done, whether it’s for a single project or an entire financial quarter’s worth of blood, sweat and tears. As we have learned, 79 of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving. Remember to say “thank you” to your employees this holiday season! Even small gestures, like a  card or letter with your sincere words of thanks can mean a lot to your employees. Spontaneity of gestures can also be a nice change in the work routine; grab your employees coffee and bagels unexpectedly one morning — or dream up your own creative way to say “thanks.”

  • The gift of friends and family. While employees may enjoy coming to work, they may in fact be longing to spend more time with loved ones outside the office, especially around the holidays. Yes, businesses are busier than ever, often juggling fewer people and more work — but your employees will enjoy and appreciate even a small break from the grind. Consider letting them leave a bit early one afternoon, or offer a flexible work option for a week or two, like coming in early/leaving early, or working four 10-hour days so they can take a long weekend. Different options will work for different types of businesses — but employees will savor the gift of more time with loved ones — and they’ll likely come back more refreshed, relaxed, and focused post-holiday.
  • The gift of choice. One final idea: Ask your employees what they want this holiday season! Let them know that budgets are tight, but that you want to celebrate with them and show them your gratitude for their work and dedication. Let them brainstorm ideas, and pick one or implement them all.

What are you giving your employees this holiday season?

Amy McDonnell

About Amy McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the creative services manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.
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  1. [...] If the office temperature is hampering your employeess ability to work productively, help them find an alternative: Let them come in earlier (the temperature may fluctuate throughout the day, making some times more bearable than others); or move their work space to an unused conference room or office – maybe even a nearby café – for a portion of the day; or simply give them the option to telecommute a few times a month. And if those simply aren’t options, a company fleece would be a pretty decent holiday gift… [...]

  2. [...] If the office temperature is hampering your employeess ability to work productively, help them find an alternative: Let them come in earlier (the temperature may fluctuate throughout the day, making some times more bearable than others); or move their work space to an unused conference room or office – maybe even a nearby café – for a portion of the day; or simply give them the option to telecommute a few times a month. And if those simply aren’t options, a company fleece would be a pretty decent holiday gift… [...]

  3. bahrein says:

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    [...] There you will find 84610 more Infos: thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com/2009/12/10/what-do-candidates-really-want-this-holiday-season-and-are-they-getting-it/ [...]

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