The Season of Scrooge?


Almost half of employees don’t expect to receive a Christmas gift from their employer, according to research from Blackhawk Network

  • 88% of employees would like to receive a gift from their employer this year, but almost half (46%) believe this is unlikely
  • Half of employees would feel disappointed, demotivated, upset or angry if they didn’t receive a gift from  their employer this festive season
  • When it comes to gifting this Christmas, almost 2 in 5 (28%) employees would prefer to receive a gift card from their employer

With the festive season upon us, 88% of employees state they would like to receive a gift from their employer as we finish up for the holidays. And, after another tough year defined by the pandemic, employees no longer see gifting as just a ‘nice to have’. In fact, 45% of employees state that it is important for employers to provide gifts and rewards this festive period. These findings come from research conducted by Blackhawk Network looking at seasonal gifting trends.

Almost two fifths (39%) of employees view gifts as recognition for their hard work and the same amount say that Christmas rewards make them feel valued by their employer. Another 32% state that gifts show that employers care and 22% say that seasonal gifts help to keep them motivated. However, staff do not trust that employers understand the need to show their appreciation. Almost half (46%) of employees believe it’s unlikely that they will receive a gift from their employer this Christmas.

Chris Ronald, VP, EMEA Incentives, Blackhawk Network, said: “The Great Resignation combined with economic bounce-back, has resulted in staff shortages at an all-time high.  Adding to this, the competition for talent is driving up salary expectations. This year’s festive challenge is for employers to gift smart. Providing rewards as a ‘thank you’ plays an important role in ensuring that staff feel appreciated. Even small gestures can go a long way in building loyalty and bringing some festive cheer to hard working teams.

The UK is in the midst of a supply chain crisis which is threatening to derail the festive season. Physical gifts, drinks and even rumours that the Christmas turkey may well be in short supply. However, the good news for employers is that gift cards are the preferred choice for almost two-fifths of employees. Delivering these early could help staff get ahead of the rush on family gifts and festive groceries, providing a genuinely useful reward that will leave staff feeling valued and appreciated.”

The business impact of failing to gift or reward

By failing to gift this Christmas, employers risk more than just disgruntled employees; staff morale and satisfaction will be impacted. In fact, half of employees would feel disappointed, demotivated, upset or angry if they didn’t receive a gift or reward from their employer this December.

This is a particular issue for younger generations; 77% of Gen Z and 82% of Millennials would have negative feelings about not receiving a seasonal gift. This is a dangerous state of affairs given that staff turnover is at an all time high amidst the Great Resignation. Gifting should be front of mind as gratitude and appreciation are critical to retaining staff and creating a positive workplace culture.

Gift Smart with rewards that resonate

The traditional Secret Santa is a mainstay of UK office culture but often falls flat. 42% of employees have negative feelings about Secret Santa, with many thinking it’s a waste of money and a waste of time. While Secret Santa can be a fun team building initiative, employers need to gift smart with rewards that are useful and meaningful to employees.

Providing physical gifts could be challenging this year in the midst of a supply chain crisis, shipping delays, a fuel crisis, and shortages of HGV drivers. Blackhawk Network’s recently global holiday gifting research found that consumers are worried about shipping delays and out-of-stocks. A third (34%) of UK consumers surveyed worry that the pandemic will impact their ability to shop and over a quarter (28%) say they will shop earlier this year due to concerns. Employers would do well to turn their attention to gift cards, which are the preferred gift choice for almost  2 in 5 (28%) employees. When it comes to gift cards, the following are most in-demand from staff:

  • Multi retailer cards – 25%
  • Restaurant or takeaway – 21%
  • A food retailer to help with the Christmas dinner shop – 18%
  • Entertainment experiences – 15%

However, the best gift is that of choice, with a fifth of employees preferring a gift card that would give them flexibility over all of the above.