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Build Your Career Office Life

Workers Get Grinchy on Holiday Gifting

Workers Get Grinchy on Holiday Gifting
Credit: View Apart/Shutterstock

While the holidays are a season for giving, one group of people you shouldn't expect anything from is your workplace colleagues, new research finds.

The majority of U.S. workers aren't planning on giving holiday gifts at the office this year, according to a study from the staffing firm Spherion. Specifically, 56 percent won't be giving anything to their co-workers, 59 percent aren't buying gifts for their boss and 61 percent won't purchase presents for other workplace staffers.

The reasons for not giving out gifts go beyond the financial burden it places on many workers. Nearly 30 percent of those who aren't planning to buy presents for anyone at work said they are doing so because they don't know their co-workers well enough, while 23 percent don't want to appear as though they're trying to gain favoritism.  

Sandy Mazur, Spherion division president, said the holiday season in the workplace can be tricky since everyone has varying expectations on gift giving and what's appropriate.

"Employers should keep in mind that not all workers, or their bosses, are going to want to buy gifts, but that doesn't make either party a Scrooge or Grinch," Mazur said in a statement. "It just means that gift-giving continues to be a personal choice for workers and they shouldn't feel forced or obliged to do so in the workplace."

Even though most workers won't be passing out presents around the office this year, the number of those who plan to do so has increased from a year ago. Nearly 20 percent of managers say they will give gifts to the employees who report to them, up from just 9 percent in 2013. Additionally, 34 percent of workers will give their boss a gift this year, up from 27 percent last year.

Overall, workers buying holiday presents for their office colleagues will spend an average of $67 on each person. [24 Fun (and Cheap!) Gifts for Your Boss ]

While the majority of employees say they don't care if they get gifts from those around the office, some workers' feelings will be hurt when they aren't given something from their boss. The study revealed that 8 percent of workers believe that when they don't receive a holiday present from their supervisor it means they aren't part of the "inner circle," while 7 percent think it means their boss doesn't value their work.

The study was based on surveys of 873 full- and part-time workers who are over age 18.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.