More than 60 per cent of Canadian workers will get some kind of reward from their employer this holiday season, but for most, it won't be the kind they're looking for — money.
A new survey conducted on behalf of human resources software company ADP Canada found that of the 61 per cent of workers who receive something extra from their employers this time of year, just 15 per cent get a financial bonus.
The online survey of 1,562 employed Canadians was conducted between Nov. 1 and 4, and has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Unsurprisingly, 54 per cent of respondents said cash would be their first choice over, say, a Starbucks gift card or an underwhelming employee dinner. Alas, those whose employers do something to show staff appreciation during the festive season are most likely to get a holiday party (40%), followed by extra time off (28%), some sort of gift (16%) or a charitable activity (7%).
One-third of employers don't provide any end-of-year acknowledgement at all.
Atlantic Canadians most likely to see the money
There were a few notable regional differences, said Heather Haslam, vice-president of marketing for ADP Canada.
"Quebecers like to party," she said, noting that 51 per cent of respondents from that province said their place of work would hold a holiday bash, compared to the national average of 40 per cent.
Those in Atlantic Canada were the most likely to say they'll be getting a financial bonus this year, with 23 per cent looking forward to something extra on their paycheque, compared to 15 per cent nationwide.
People from British Columbia were most likely to get extra vacation time, while those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were the most likely to say their employer does nothing at all to mark the holidays.
"There seems to be a bit of a disconnect between employees and employers," said Haslam.
The results suggest that employers should think about tailoring their offerings to the individual, she said.
'Create a more engaged team'
Bosses might opt to provide individual employees with a choice to either attend the company holiday party or putting that money toward a charity, said Haslam. Or provide the option to choose between a financial bonus or some extra time off.
"That's creating an environment where people's individual preferences are understood and acknowledged, and it helps to create a more engaged team," she said.
Glenn Zujew, executive vice-president at Toronto-based Klick Inc., a group of companies that includes the world's largest independent health marketing company, said the organization goes big with employee incentives this time of year.
The company, which was the recipient of 11 best employer awards in 2019, aims to "surprise and delight" in the run up to the holidays.
The company holds a town hall to reflect on the past year, followed by a splashy party where all staff spouses are invited, including those who are flown in from other parts of the country.
I don't have to book any vacation time off, and I get to spend all that time at home. - Ian Marquette, Halifax tech worker and father of three
"Sometimes people need to stay a little bit later and we want to make sure we thank the spouses for those kinds of things," said Zujew.
At this year's party, management announced that it's organized an upcoming early screening of the new Star Wars movie.
In addition to lively charitable activities, including the production and release of its annual holiday video that features staff as actors, the office will close between Christmas Day and New Year's Day so employees can have the time off without having to dip into their vacation time.
Each staff member also receives a personalized, coffee table-style yearbook that captures photos and details about each individual's year.
Things like financial bonuses are handled on an individual basis, said Zujew.
For Ian Marquette, who started working as product designer at software company Proposify in Halifax this year, it was a delight to discover that the office will be closed for two full weeks over the holidays. Being off for the entire school break will give him time with his three kids and remove any child-care challenges the family would normally face.
"It's great. I don't have to book any vacation time off, and I get to spend all that time at home," said Marquette. "I'm really happy. It's very fortunate."
Although the holiday closure didn't come up during the recruitment process, Marquette said he believes the company could have made it a big selling point. "I've never worked anywhere that does that."
Although Haslam said it's always good to show employees appreciation, the holidays in particular offer an opportunity to pause, reflect and acknowledge the contributions of staff, which is particularly critical for engagement and retention in a tight labour market.
"People want to feel valued," she said.