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UK workers want cash – not Christmas parties

British employees don’t want a Christmas party this year – and would prefer cash instead. That’s according to research by Appreciate, home of Love2Shop, the staff and customer rewards specialist.

In a sign of the times, given the choice between receiving £50 or having a company Christmas party this year, almost nine in 10 (88%) revealed they would prefer to receive a £50 gift instead to spend as they wish.

Fortunately, HMRC’s Trivial Benefit allowance enables businesses to give such a £50 gift to employees tax free, allowing companies to save £33.68 per basic tax-paying employee (£48.10 for higher rate tax payers).

With lockdown and restrictions, the research conducted with 1,002 British employees by YouGov revealed that 46% don’t want a company Christmas party this year, compared to 24% who do want one.

Even post-Covid, British employees are not keen on a postponed ‘Christmas do’. Some 51% said they wouldn’t attend, compared to 36% who would consider it next year.

When asked how employees would spend the £50, almost one in four (23%) said they would save it, and 17% would put it in their Christmas fund.

A romantic 11% said they would spend it on a night out with their partner, whereas only 5% said they would spend it on a gift for their kids. Interestingly, 7% said they would spend it on themselves and not tell anyone.

Attitudes vary by sector, with employees in the legal sector most likely to want to party this Christmas, with 34% saying they would still like a celebration. This compares to the national average of 24%.

When asked, if gifted £50 instead of an office party, legal employees confessed they are six times more likely to spend it on themselves (6%) than their partner (1%).

Marketing, sales and media sector closely follow the legal sector in their desire to party: 30% want a company party, compared to the 24% national average, and 52% would be likely to attend (42% national average).

Media employees are almost twice as likely to prefer a party over a £50 incentive – 19% compared to an 11% national average.

Frank Creighton, Director of Business Development at Appreciate Group, said: “Company Christmas parties are looking unlikely this year and in the challenging economic climate it does not surprise us that nine in ten employees would rather have a £50 gift instead. The HMRC Trivial Benefit allowance enables such a £50 tax free gift to employees. In the current Covid environment, there is an opportunity for employers to spread a little festive joy and enjoy a tax benefit:, so this could be a win-win for both bosses and workers.

“This demand for financial incentives is reflected in our own business as companies look for different ways to say thank you to staff – since July we’ve seen a doubling in demand from companies wanting gift cards to reward their employees. Incentives such as cash or gift voucher reward are clearly more appealing since they give workers the freedom to spend as they wish and to treat themselves or loved ones.”