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Kiwi companies generous at Christmas

New survey reveals Kiwi companies generous at Christmas – but shouldn’t expect loyalty in return

Most Kiwi workers will be treated to a Christmas party or gift from their employer this year. There’s no guarantee it will translate into increased loyalty or even boost morale.

That’s according to a new survey by recruitment firm Hudson looking at what’s behind the tradition of Christmas workplace giving.

The survey, Hudson Report: Christmas Benefits, asked employers what Christmas-related benefits they give their staff and why, how much they spend, and whether they measure how effective the benefits are.

The classic staff Christmas party is by far the most popular festive season benefit, with 60 per cent of employers throwing a party compared with 30 per cent who prefer to give their staff gifts such as Christmas hampers.

Hudson executive general manager, Marc Burrage, said given the potential expenditure in this area – not to mention employees’ expectations – Hudson wondered if Christmas-time activities had become a way of increasing morale or retention.

“We wanted to look at what drives companies to make what sometimes is an investment in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. “

The survey shows employers make a reasonable investment in their staff at Christmas time – about 30 per cent spend between $50 and $100 on each staff member and 35 per cent spend between $100 and $500.

Two per cent said they didn’t provide a benefit.

Surprisingly, there was little difference between generosity in small, medium and large organisations although government organisations appeared more prudent.

However most employers – nearly 60 per cent – do not try to measure how effective their investment is.

The survey found that employers do not rely on Christmas benefits and bonuses as a way to retain staff. Between 30 and 35 per cent of employers rely on year-round individual career planning to retain staff, while 25 to 35 per cent – particularly small and medium sized employers – use financial incentives to retain staff.

“Those employers acknowledge that the issue of retention, particularly in a skills-short market, needs to be properly addressed throughout the year. It’s not enough to make your staff feel special only at Christmas time,” Mr Burrage said.

Approximately one-fifth of employers said they provide Christmas benefits because staff expect them.

The survey found that 55 per cent of employers use Christmas benefits to boost staff morale but rarely as retention strategies.

“This effectively leaves Christmas activities and their place in the HR arsenal somewhat in limbo – they’re loosely connected to, but not formally part of employers’ staff retention strategies,” Mr Burrage said.

Mr Burrage said the link between Christmas benefits and retention strategies is a mix of cultural and organisational factors.

“Culturally we might think it is appropriate that the sentiments of the season – such as goodwill and valuing others – are reflected in the workplace. Indeed many employers in our survey commented that the opportunity to say ‘Thank You’ is what really drives their initiatives.

“However, without any measure, it’s not possible to accurately gauge whether employees see Christmas initiatives as a simple ‘Thank You’ from their boss, or whether it encourages them to stay in their job longer.”


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