In 2004, More Holiday Season Office 'Gifts' May be Intangible

December 16, 2004 ( - Even though seven in 10 Americans polled say their boss could well be wearing a red suit and sporting a bushy white beard this holiday season, that doesn't necessarily mean they expect to get a tangible workplace gift.

A news release said a recent Maritz poll found that while only a third of workers described their supervisor as a holiday Grinch, those working for an office Santa were just as likely to expect a kind word about their work as a gift certificate or a fruit basket. Only a quarter of American workers in the survey predicted getting an actual tangible gift from the boss.

“In addition to gifts or money, employees look for intangible rewards like praise or recognition,” said Gloria Park Bartolone, vice president of the retail research group at Maritz, in the announcement. “According to our most recent studies, more employees report receiving praise this year, which could help explain the Santa effect.”

Most workers told pollsters that they likewise didn’t plan to get their supervisor anything during the holidays. Only 28% of workers plan to buy their boss a gift , up from 24% last year. Also, the amount they plan to spend is $45, which appears to have decreased over the past two years. Supervisors with more female direct reports might fare better; Women are feeling more generous toward their supervisor than men, with 34% of women and only 23% of men planning to buy for the boss, which is consistent with the 2002 and 2003 Maritz Polls.

Workers may not feel that generous toward the boss, but they apparently are putting more coworkers on their holiday gift lists. Half of respondents plan to extend their generosity to officemates this year, up from 41% in 2003. People also plan to spend significantly more on colleagues – on average $83, up from $69 last year. More women (60%) than men (40%) will give holiday office gifts. However, men say they will spend an average of $100 on their coworkers, $30 more than the average for women.

The poll, conducted October 25 to November 3, 2004, featured responses from 1002 randomly selected adults from a national telephone survey.