vacation of the future

Bah Humbug In Your Office?

This is a short workweek for most office workers, but it’s also a stressful one. Why? Because this is the last chance to give holiday gifts to coworkers and bosses.

If you think buying for friends and family is stressful, a recent poll shows just how troublesome office gifts can be.

“A majority of American workers don’t plan to give gifts to their co-workers (56 percent), boss (59 percent), or other colleagues (61 percent),” says the poll by temp staffing firm Spherion.

The reasons were understandable…

  • “Don’t want to because they feel they would have to buy something for everyone” — 43 percent
  • “Don’t know their co-workers well enough to buy them gifts” — 28 percent
  • “Don’t want to appear as though they are trying to gain favoritism” — 23 percent

Those who do give gifts told Spherion they plan to spend, on average, $67 for everyone. The company didn’t ask what those gift were, but there’s no shortage of office-appropriate lists, from Office Gifts Under $20 to 25 Cool Gifts for Your Co-Workers for $10 or Less.

I’m going to endorse the tried-and-true way to handle office politics and office gifts: Buy breakfast or lunch. This is an especially good week for those who can’t afford a massive meal. With so many employees taking vacation before Thursday, you can economically feed the coworkers who are still at their desks.

This has the added benefit of saving yourself from buying gifts that are unappreciated or, even worse, offensive. Last month, USA Today reported on 8 of the worst office Christmas gifts ever, and my favorite example was the boss who gave his female employee “a pack of wine coolers and a gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret.”

If you want to forgo even food but not ignore the holiday cheer, then I simply suggest you buy holiday cards for those coworkers and bosses you want to recognize. Unlike gifts, an envelope is easy to leave unobtrusively in an office or cubicle, and it’s a small enough token that no one will be offended they didn’t get one.

Whatever you decide, and whether you celebrate this holiday or another, I wish everyone an easy workweek and a wonderful day (or more) off.

Howard Dvorkin is a CPA and chairman of Debt.com, an educational resource for those who want to conquer all forms of debt in their lives.

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