Christmas, Secret Santa, and Millennials

In Great Britain, the website Jobsite, came out with a study saying that Millennials find Secret Santa in the workplace anxiety inducing and stressful. My first knee jerk reaction was, oh lord, more whining. Stop ruining things others enjoy. Well, I too, hate most work practices when it comes to Christmas and I am not a millennial. Why are we expected to budget our income for coworkers instead of our friends and family? We work to provide for our family and be able to spend time with our friends and family. We don’t work to support our coworkers and bosses. That’s where our money is earned not where we wish to spend our money. I completely disagree with our employer telling us how we have to spend our money. I am siding with the millennials in the study on this one.

Years ago in the United States, employers were expected to pay out Christmas bonuses and provide Christmas meals or a party as a way to promote loyalty and show appreciation. Over time, this has been pushed off onto managers and employees. Employees are expected to buy their boss a gift. Managers are expected to throw the party and often pay for a portion of the party or meal. Christmas bonuses are often a thing of the past. I view this as one more cost that corporations and business owners have manipulated employees into incurring. The reality is that most employees including managers cannot afford to incur this cost and still pay their own bills and buy the people who will always be in their lives the gifts they deserve. Employees don’t even realize in many cases how much money their managers are required to spend on these parties and events. Add Christmas to the long list of reasons why employees are no longer loyal to employers. They are however, loyal to good managers. Corporations and business owners should wake up. Business 101, the highest cost of doing business is employee turnover. This is true of any and all businesses. Lowering turnover increases profits without fail every time. It’s basic business.

Secret Santa appears to be a way to minimize costs for employees since they only have to buy one gift. It doesn’t matter if the employee has the income to buy the one gift or not. If you get your boss’ name, good luck to you. I’ve had Christmases over the years where I have struggled to pay utility bills. Yes, that one gift can be a really big deal. Which family member is getting the lump of coal? I’ve had Christmases where I have had disposable income and bought gifts for people I normally would not have bought gifts. There are offices that let people opt out of the Secret Santa or Christmas hoopla all together. Again, this appears to be a reasonable solution. Except it isn’t always a reasonable solution. Some companies literally keep track of who partakes of the work events and it will show up on reviews as not being committed to your job etc. It will be an excuse not to give you a raise. You aren’t a company person. The millennials are correct. Secret Santa as well as other Christmas work events (in my opinion) can be extremely stressful and can in fact affect your job.

Gifts are supposed to be exactly that. Gifts! Freely given to someone because we want them to have whatever it is we found for them. Personally, I have made lifelong friends at every job I have ever had. We have moved on from those jobs yet remain friends. If you work with people who you know will be lifelong friends or you just want to show your appreciation for, absolutely buy them a gift if you can afford to do so. Those people you have a good enough relationship with to give them their gift outside of work even if it’s in the parking lot.

Keep on “whining” millennials. You’re bringing change and awareness. Those are both gifts.

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