More than Half of Bosses to Play Office Santa in 2006

December 8, 2006 ( - More than half of managers in a new poll say they will play the Santa role in their offices this holiday season by giving presents to their workers.

A news release about the survey by and ShopLocal said 56% of supervisors were readying their “ho-ho-ho’s” and loading up their gift bags.

But most employees shouldn’t look for fancy cars or high-tech playthings. While one-third of bosses who will purchase gifts plan to spend $10 or less per staff member, 20% expect to spend more than $25 and nearly 10% expect to spend more than $50.

While more than half of employers plan to give holiday gifts to their staffs, 9% said they feel obligated to do so. Female managers are more likely to holiday shop with 62% planning to buy gifts for their staffs, compared to 51% of their male counterparts.

Cash ranked highest on office shopping lists. Fifty-two percent of bosses plan to give greenbacks or gift cards to their staff members while 23% will fuel holiday indulgences with gifts of candy and 21% will buy their staffs holiday ornaments or decorations. Other popular gifts are books (15%), wine/alcohol (13%), food baskets (12%) and gag gifts (11%).

Employees Can Also Play Santa

On the employee side, 29% of workers will reciprocate the gift-giving gesture, with those making less than $50,000 being the most likely to buy holiday gifts for their bosses.

Nearly three-in-ten workers plan to buy holiday gifts for their bosses with 5% feeling obligated to do so. Female employees are more likely to holiday shop with 39% planning to buy gifts for their bosses compared to 16% of men. Thirty-five percent of workers said they will buy for other co-workers.

The study also found the more you make, the less likely you are to spend it on the boss. Twenty-three percent of workers with incomes over $100,000 and 27% of those with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 said they will buy a gift for their boss compared to 34% of workers who earn less than $50,000.

Gift cards, gift certificates or money topped the shopping lists for 38% of employees buying for their bosses. Food baskets and wine/alcohol tied for second most popular at 13%. Business card holders, paperweights or other office items came in third at 12%.

Nearly half of workers (49%) reported their companies host holiday parties and 23% said their companies host a grab bag or gift exchange. One-in-ten (12%) admitted to feeling there would be negative consequences if they didn’t participate in a grab bag or gift exchange.

A Voodoo Doll Gift?

When asked to identify some of the more unusual holiday gifts they or a co-worker had received at the office, respondents offered the following examples:

  • Gift certificate to a strip club
  • A voodoo doll
  • Underwear
  • What Would Jesus Do? bracelet
  • Used make up
  • Bottle of vodka for a recovering alcoholic
  • Package of over-the-counter medicines
  • Tin of burnt cookies
  • Used cookbook with food stains on it

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of between August 31 and September 5, 2006 among 1,650 workers and 1,150 hiring managers, ages 18 and over.