Traditionally Christmas is the time of year when people want to wind down and focus on family and friends, however new research from Kronos has revealed that most UK employees won’t enjoy the festive period this year as a direct result of work demands.
“Organisations that go the extra mile at Christmas to ensure workers remain motivated, productive and engaged will reap the rewards. It is important that employers start by listening to their employee needs and preferences and act upon the information to create fair and equitable work schedules. While not everyone can enjoy flexible working or extra holidays during the busiest time of the year; being fair, transparent and empowering employees to make decisions that balance the needs of the business and their personal lives will make your organisation stand out when attracting or retaining the best talent.”
However, attitudes to Christmas are not just split around gender. The research also highlighted a very clear generational shift, with Millennials and Generation Y valuing time off at Christmas more highly than their older counterparts. Unfortunately they are the least likely to get the shifts that they want over this period (45%). Perhaps this is reflected in the fact that they are most likely to fake a “sickie” at Christmas (89%) than any other age-group.
The real story of Christmas – Over half (51 percent) of UK employees cited job demands as the main reason they are unable to fully get into the Christmas spirit.
More than a third (37.4 percent) of employees have no control over their work schedules during the festive period.
In the UK, one in five have to work on Christmas Day and/or New Year’s Day.
A quarter of those employed in the UK have to work on Boxing Day.
More than two in five people (44 percent) find it difficult to juggle work and family life at this time of year.
A third (33 percent) of people must work at least one a day over the Christmas period when they would prefer not to.
Gender gap – There is a big difference in the sacrifices men and women will make to get time off over Christmas.
Forty percent of women surveyed would prefer to give up bank holidays at other times of the year or work twice their contracted hours for a week than work over the Christmas period.
A quarter of men would prefer to take a pay cut or pay a colleague to work in their place over Christmas.
Men are more likely to “pull a sickie” than women, with nearly a third (31 percent) of men consider taking an unplanned day off to complete last minute shopping or recover from the staff Christmas party, compared to only one-fifth (20 percent) of women.
A generation game – The different generational attitudes to Christmas are stark, with Millennials and Generation Z valuing time off at Christmas more highly than their older counterparts.
Millennials and Generation Y are the least likely to get the shifts that they want over this period (45 percent), and they are the age group most likely to “pull a sickie” at Christmas (89 percent).
Sector splits – There are significant differences in how employees feel about working over Christmas, depending on the sector they work in.
Retail and healthcare employees work the most over Christmas, though surprisingly it was those working in the IT and HR sectors that are most worried about “burning out” over the Christmas period (51 percent and 61 percent, respectively).
Healthcare (34 percent) and retail (37 percent) employees are most concerned that there will not be the staff resources needed for the busier Christmas period.
The majority of retail employees don’t mind working extra hours over the festive period (51 percent), while only a quarter prefer not to work extra hours at this time of year (25 percent).
Christmas saviour – Continuing to foster employee engagement over the festive period is essential if productivity and customer service levels are to be maintained.
Increased remuneration is often considered the primary means to engage employees, but as the recent Workforce Engaged report by Kronos finds, pay ranks on ninth in order of importance. Feeling valued and being treated fairly rank much higher.
Communication with employees is crucial – Understanding the days and hours that staff would prefer to work over the festive period and creating work schedules that, where possible, take this into account and share the work across the team fairly will support greater levels of engagement and, ultimately, provide a higher level of customer service.