Friday, December 9, 2016

Workplaces and Holidays

My favourite workplace blog, Ask A Manager, is fielding a bunch of holiday-related work questions at the moment.

The two most common themes are:

 1. Should employees give (or in some cases, be pressured to give) gifts or money to their managers as Christmas presents? (This appears to be way more common than you'd think).

 2. How do you decide who has to work the Christmas-NY gap (or in the cases of businesses or services that don't shut down even for the main days, that whole period)? (Again, the level of shenanigans turning up in the letters is extraordinary).

 I find the first issue pretty mind-blowing, TBH. I mean, OF COURSE people shouldn't be expected to (and gift etiquette positively requires them NOT to) make a financial contribution from their post-tax earnings to the person who pays them! That's like a Holiday Tax for Being Employed. Very stupid.

 I have frequently baked Christmas cookies or cupcakes and taken them into offices to share, and obviously my manager of the time was included in the comestibles distribution. But the only circumstance in which I might chuck money into a pot for a manager gift would be for something like a baby or wedding gift. (I wouldn't even do it for a leaving gift).

 That said, this year I *am* getting my boss a lovely personal Christmas gift that I know she'll love. It's a new fantasy novel and a gorgeous blue summer dress. However, my boss is MYSELF, so it's a bit different. It's like my Christmas bonus for a stonkingly good quarter, paid ... to me :-)

 Re the second point - I get why this is such a hot-button issue. It's only ever been an issue for me personally in one job - when I worked for an online news aggregator, and I did indeed have to work Christmas Day night (10pm - 7am on Boxing Day). It sucked, and I was not happy when I was rostered again to work the entire Easter weekend on nights. (I left that job a couple of months later, for many reasons, but the holiday thing was definitely one of them).

Then again, there are people who LOVE working the gap because it's so quiet and chilled at the office. My partner is in IT and he works it every year and cherishes the opportunity to get server upgrades done in peace. We traditionally take our family holidays in January or February, so it suits him. He's never in a competition to take the gap days.

 Most workplaces I have been in that don't shut down for the gap run skeleton staff for that period, and there usually someone who wants to work so they can save time off for other purposes. But when it's competitive, I think the most important thing is to be fair. It can't just be seniority or first-in-best-dressed, there needs to be some regard as to what other "desirable days" people have had in the past (or may want in the next year). If you have to work Christmas gap, you should get first pick of the days around Easter, for example. (Or, for the Americans, Thanksgiving).

 What do you reckon?


  1. The first is ridic. If you are forced to give something then it shouldn't be called a gift for it is no such thing. I generally give my direct reports something (usually a card and some homemade biscuits - gluten free :) ) and then I generally also bring in some chocolates for everyone in the week before xmas. Sometimes people gives me cards and small gifts. I appreciate them but I don't expect them.

    I do think you're a big old meany not giving money for a leaving gift though :)

    1. Yes, but you giving things to your DRs is you gifting DOWN, not the other way around.

      Your opinion re my meany status is noted and ignored :-P