SURVEY SAYS: Will Your Boss Get a Gift This Year?

December 11, 2008 ( - As the holidays approach, many of us will be exchanging gifts with friends and co-workers.

This week, I’d like to know, outside of a “secret Santa” arrangement: Will you be giving your BOSS a gift this year?

And this week’s Bonus question: How old were you when you learned “the truth” about Santa Claus…and (perhaps even if you don’t remember how old you were at the time) HOW did you learn it?  

REPLY to our survey HERE

SURVEY SAYS   Last week, we asked readers if they would be giving their BOSS a gift.  

Well, if you're feeling guilty about not giving something to your boss this holiday season, don't.   Less than a third ( 31.7% ) of the respondents to this week's survey will be giving something to the boss, though a noticeable minority beyond that will be giving something - if only food, or participating in some kind of group gift (more in that in a minute).  

Roughly a quarter said they don't exchange gifts at work, while 5% said the only "gift" would be the pleasure of having them work for that boss, nearly as many said they wouldn't be giving a gift, and "if you knew my boss, you'd understand."   About 6% indicated they might give their boss a present (about a third of those said, "depending on whether they were naughty/nice), and just under 3% weren't - because they wouldn't want to be seen as trying to curry favor.


The "other" category was, as it often is, a popular selection.   Nearly one-in-three of this week's responses fell into that category, and though most of these will not be giving a gift, the reasons were quite varied:

Do you count St. Nick's Day (Dec. 6) cookies? If so, then yes. It avoids the politics of who gets Christmas or Holiday cards.

I plan on baking cookies for my boss. I guess that's more of a gesture than a gift.

I usually give my boss a Hanukkah gift, which reminds me that I need to check the calendar to see when it starts this year!

No, my boss is Jewish and wouldn't appreciate a gift.

We have elected to celebrate birthdays instead, but his birthday is the day after Christmas, so it still feels like a Christmas gift to me!

I will not give my boss a gift of my own free will. What usually happens, however, is that at the last minute one of her other direct reports sends around an e-mail saying she is going to get a group gift for the boss and does everyone else think that's a good idea? Then, I can't say no without looking like a horrible cheapskate. And so I just resentfully put in the $20, feeling I have no other realistic choice. I tell my husband it's the annual holiday extortion. This also routinely happens on my boss's birthday (who is a perfectly nice person, by the way).

Actually my answer is No- If You knew my boss you would understand. Our boss strongly "suggested" that all of us participate in a Secret Santa Exchange in which he picked the date, the amounts and that we WILL have a pot luck if you know what I mean. The team decided that it would not be necessary to also buy him a gift and the stated reason is that cash is tight this year so enough is enough.

The hard part is finding something for him. What do you give to someone who's a multi-millionaire?

I have no idea. This is my first year at this company and I am not sure what the protocol is. I guess I'll find out!

Absolutely! Fortunately, she's a gem and we all realize how lucky we are to have her.

A clear plurality of those who won't fall into the category of "we don't exchange gifts at work" (a finding that also explains the nearly 29% who said they wouldn't be getting a present from their boss for that reason).   It was, however, quite interesting, to see just how many were expecting something from their boss.   A full 17% were counting on it, while just over one-in-five said "probably", and another 1% said "I'd better."  

However, 20% weren't sure (another 3% were in the "maybe" category), 5.4% were sure they weren't getting anything ("and if you know my boss, you'd understand"), 3.6% said there would be no gift "other than the privilege of letting me work for him/her, while only 1% said they wouldn't because their boss wouldn't want to seem to be currying favor.

There were, of course, some interesting "expansions" of those responses:

i hope's rare that supervisor/staffer gifts go well, and it's easy to foul up. Better to just skip the whole thing.

My boss took our team out to lunch to celebrate the holidays. Though it's not a gift, it was money out of his pocket.

A good reference if I can find anyone hiring in 2009.

No- He has never purchased a gift for any member of his team. He did come back from his last vacation with a sucker for everyone. We wondered what he was trying to say since our teams average age is about 40.

Hope not. Then I'd feel bad about not giving him anything.

I hope not--too much pressure to keep doing it every year!

My first year celebrating the holiday at this firm I gave everyone in my department (8) a $5.00 scratch-off lottery ticket. My manager gave me an expensive gift. When I expressed my apologies for not having anything more than the lottery ticket for her, she explained that you never "Gift Up!" The Chief HR Officer made this announcement, "Those who are higher up on the totem pole buy for their subordiates, subordinates should not be buying for their boss, and the boss should not expect a gift!" Although some will exchange. I will get everyone in my dept. (11) a little something (less than $3.00).

She is covering a portion of the tab for a department dinner out next week. The company is covering the rest.

She's already been quite generous - in an effort to keep us at out desks and working on EGTRRA restatements, lunch has been provided.

My boss usually brings in a box of chocolates for the office. This is just what my figure doesn't need.

But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who said, "No, I'm a new hire. I haven't actually seen my boss much since she hired me. Maybe next year; I don't want to appear like the Rudolph's cousin, the brown nosed reindeer."

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!