Employers Spending Less on Holiday Practices

December 7, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Paid holiday leave will be more generous in 2005, companywide parties will be more prevalent, and charitable giving and community activities will remain a staple for most organizations, while paid holiday leave over the longer term is on the decline, employers have reduced party spending, and year-end gifts and bonuses have dipped slightly, according to a survey from BNA.

Fifty-one percent of employers will give two to two-and-a-half days of paid leave during the 2005 year-end holidays, up from 46% last year, and 43% will grant workers three or more days off with pay, up from 33% last year.Ninety-three percent of employers have granted Monday, December 26 as a paid holiday, and 32% will give a paid holiday on Friday, December 23.

Similar to BNA’s findings for Thanksgiving, a few employers will require essential personnel to work Christmas or New Year’s Day shifts. Thirty-three percent of surveyed employers will require at least some workers to be present on one or both of the year-end holidays, compared to 37% who required essential workers to work on Thanksgiving (See Employees: You Don’t Bring Us Turkeys Anymore). Among large organizations (with 1,000 or more employees), 55% will require essential personnel to report to work on Christmas and/or New Year’s Day, which is more than twice the proportion of smaller organizations requiring holiday work (27%).

Security and public safety employees are among those most commonly required to work during the year-end holidays, with 21% of employers requiring essential security and public safety workers to be on duty Christmas Day and/or New Year’s Day.

Year-end gift giving shows a slight decline. Around 40% of surveyed employers plan to give employees year-end gifts, either in the form of non-cash gifts or cash awards and bonuses, compared to 45% of employers that reported plans for year-end gifts and bonuses in 2004.

Year-end holiday parties are more popular this year (83% v. 79% in 2004), however the amount budgeted for these parties has declined. Eighty-three percent of establishments hosting galas in 2005 will pay the full cost of the party, comparable to the 85% that footed the bill in 2004, but the median estimated expenditure on companywide parties is down markedly among surveyed employers this year to $5,000, compared with $8,000 in 2004.

Charitable giving and volunteer activities remain important practices in many organizations. Seventy-two percent plan to sponsor or participate in one or more charitable activities this year, the same as the percentage reported one year ago. Eighty-five percent of large organizations plan to participate in one or more year-end charitable activities, as well as 68% of smaller organizations.

BNA’s Year-End Holiday Practices Survey is based on responses from 184 human resources executives representing a cross-section of organizations.