What's In Store For Working During The Holidays? Bloomberg BNA Survey Sheds Light On Time Off, Who Punches The Clock, Gifts, Celebrations, And Giving

Survey Highlights Extras for Employees During the Holidays, with Company-sponsored Celebrations on the Rise

Arlington, Va. (December 15, 2015) — 'Tis the season for paid time off, workplace festivities and a little something extra in the stocking for many American workers, according to findings from the annual Bloomberg BNA Year-End Holiday Practices Survey.  Human resources professionals can access a complimentary copy of the survey, which has been conducted since 1980, here.  

“Rest and relaxation are in store for the over half of American workers who will be fortunate enough to celebrate the holidays with three days off this season,” said Molly Huie, Bloomberg BNA’s Manager of Survey and Research Reports.  “Employers are in their most giving mood this time of year, and in addition to paid days off, workers can enjoy extra compensation, celebrations with colleagues and the opportunity to give back to their communities.  Among the notable findings from this year’s survey is that 80 percent of organizations will sponsor a holiday event — such as a companywide event, lunch or dinner — in essence, returning to the highest percentage recorded a decade ago.” 

Paid Time Off

Three or more paid holidays are slated for employees at nearly six in ten organizations (57 percent).  This is down slightly from 61 percent last holiday season when Christmas and New Year’s fell on Thursdays and virtually unchanged from 2009-2010 when the holidays last fell on a Friday.   The “extra” holiday is most likely to be December 24, with 46 percent of employers providing that day off with pay.  

Manufacturers are the most likely to provide workers extra time off at year’s end.  Eight out of ten manufacturers (82 percent) will provide at least three paid days off compared to half of all non-manufacturers and 48 percent of nonbusiness organizations, such as hospitals and municipalities.  

Holiday Work

Nearly two in five organizations (39 percent) will have at least a few workers on duty for one or both holidays.   Those employees most likely to be at work on Christmas or New Year’s are service and maintenance workers (14 percent), public safety and security personnel (14 percent) and technical staff (13 percent).   Among those organizations slated to have workers on hand for the holidays include health care facilities, call centers, and hotels.

Three-quarters (77 percent) of workers drawing holiday duty will be well compensated for the inconvenience.   Over half of employers (52 percent) of employers will provide time-and-a-half or double time, 8 percent will give compensatory time off for working the holidays, 6 percent will provide extra pay and compensatory time off, and another 11 percent will provide additional compensation including “double time-and-a-half pay” and “time-and-a-half pay plus holiday pay.”

Celebrations

Company-sponsored festivities continue to increase in popularity.  Four out of five companies (80 percent) will provide an opportunity for employees to celebrate the holidays with a sponsored event.  Sixty-one percent of all organizations will host a company-wide party, and one-third of those organizations hosting a party for all workers (34 percent) will also hold smaller division- or department-level get-togethers.  

Alcohol is on tap at two-thirds of all celebrations – as are alcohol safeguards.  Sixty-six percent of companywide celebrations will feature alcohol, and 58 percent will provide an open bar.  Of those organizations serving alcoholic drinks, 90 percent will employ one or more safeguards to prevent excessive consumption. 

Gifts and Bonuses

Year-end gifts and bonuses are slated for over two-in-five employees.  This year, 42 percent of employers will give gifts or bonuses to their workers.  Nearly one-third of employers (32 percent) will award holiday bonuses while one in ten will provide merchandise, gift cards or gift certificates.  

Holiday gifts are modest for all employees but the gap between management and non-management bonuses is significantly larger.  The median estimated expenditure per employee for gifts is $50 for managers and non-management.  The median cash award for managers is $725, nearly fifty percent more than for non-managers ($500).  

The vast majority of employers monitor the handling of gifts and over one-in-five ban them altogether.  Four out of five organizations (80 percent) have formal policies on gift acceptance, with 22 percent banning any tokens of appreciation.

Charitable Activities

The spirit of giving continues to grow among organizations.  Two-thirds of organizations (67 percent) will sponsor community or charitable events at year-end.  Toy collection for children in need is in place at nearly half of all companies providing charitable support (49 percent) with food drives not far behind (45 percent).  And “adoption” programs, through which toys, food and clothes are provided directly to local families – are arranged by nearly one-third of employers (32 percent). 

This year’s report is based on a survey of 368 employers, with respondents generally in senior human resource and employee relations executive positions and representing a broad cross-section of U.S. employers.  A complimentary copy of the survey is available here

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