Navigating the Holidays at the OfficeOffice holiday

The holiday season is in full-swing at offices across the country. A recent Office Pulse survey examined how professionals are navigating through the holiday season, from gift giving to vacation planning – and how they’re handling all of the work in between.

(Selfish) secret Santa

Business professionals have been caught up in the busy holiday shopping season, one that saw historical sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Office Pulse found more than 58% of workers said they planned to do some sort of online shopping from the office on Cyber Monday alone. So, it’s no surprise business professionals are squeezing in a purchase for themselves this holiday season. More than half of workers (53%) plan to buy themselves a gift this year, a recent Office Pulse study found, up slightly from 48% of workers last year. They’re not afraid to shell out their hard-earned cash, either; 35% of workers will spend over $100 on themselves, and 33% will spend $50-100.

How much will professionals spend on holiday shopping this year?

Over $500: 44%

$500-1000: 40%

Over $1000: 13%

Over $2000: 2%

While professionals may be feeling particularly generous towards themselves this year, don’t expect the rest of the office to feel the same degree of generosity. Most workers don’t plan to buy a gift for their co-workers, and even if they do, they won’t be spending much. Just 33% of workers will get their co-workers a gift, with most purchases under $25 (46%).

Sorry, bosses, but your subordinates are even less likely to purchase a gift for you. Only 30% plan to buy a gift for their boss, and most plan to spend between $25-50 (48%). Just 3% will spend more than $100. The higher ups are still appreciated by some, though. 59% of those earning $200K+ will buy their boss a gift.

Guilty of re-gifting

Is it better to re-gift than to give no gift at all? While the jury may still be out on the controversial holiday practice, you can expect that some will nevertheless try to pass along their unwanted gifts to their coworkers. In fact, about 1 in 5 workers (21%) will re-gift at the office this year. So, who are the ungrateful (or frugal) culprits? 40% of senior managers and 50% of business owners say they are a re-gifter.

It’s the thought that counts?

Gift cards may have earned a bad reputation as the ‘impersonal’ or ‘lazy’ gift choice, but they continue to be one of the most popular gifts during the holiday season. In fact, holiday shoppers plan to spend an estimated $27.6B on gift cards this year. At the office, 43% of workers said they like to give a gift card.

Don’t worry if you have a couple gift cards sitting in your desk drawer for your co-workers. As much as business professionals like to give gift cards, they also like to receive them; more than half of professionals (56%) said a gift card was their favorite gift to receive. Gift cards easily topped other favorite gifts such as alcohol (17%), homemade items (10%), gadgets (9%) and work-related items (8%).

Interestingly, income correlates with the likelihood of appreciating a gift card given by a co-worker. 80% of professionals earning less than $30K favored a gift card, compared to 54% of workers earning $75K-$99,999. Just 43% of professionals earning $200K+ said a gift card was their favorite gift.

In an open-ended question, professionals listed some of the worst gifts they’ve received

At least you didn’t get your co-workers deodorant (hopefully).

A used purse with used lipstick An expired Groupon
Deodorant Chocolate covered cookies – ‘I’m diabetic’
Hot dog lunch at a street vendor Inspiration cards
A history of the Supreme Court A giant Costco bag of prunes

The Gift of Giving

Aside from finding the perfect gift for their peers (or themselves), business professionals are also giving back this holiday. More than half of offices (54%) participate in charitable activities around the holidays.

The most common charities offices will take part in

Toy drive: 63%
Food drive: 52%
Clothing drive: 40%
Angel tree: 31%
Volunteer time during work hours: 29%

Time off or time lost?

As 2017 comes to a close, business professionals will try and squeeze in some last-minute vacation time. 41% of workers said they plan to take a few days off from work in December, while 38% will take off one week.

Who’s losing vacation time this year?

  • 37% of senior managers or above plan to lose vacation time.
  • 38% of those earning $200K+ will lose unused vacation time, the most of any income bracket.
  • Over a quarter of Gen Xers (28%) will lose vacation time, more than Millennials (18%) or Baby Boomers (14%).

But for some professionals, it’s not a question of when they’re going to use their vacation time, but if they’re going to use the time at all. Even though the majority of companies (58%) will let their employees rollover vacation time, many business professionals will still lose some of that time for good. 22% of workers will lose vacation time, which is mostly in line with previous years.

For some workers losing vacation time, those losses will cut a bit deeper than their peers. 40% will lose a full week of vacation, and 15% will lose 2+ weeks.

Working hard (or hardly working)

Bad news for those who couldn’t close out the year with a vacation: just 8% of businesses close during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. But just because business professionals will be at the office doesn’t mean they’re all going to be productive.

Workers are split on how beneficial that last week of the year is for them. Fewer co-workers in the office may bring less commotion, but they’re absence may inadvertently make work more challenging. 38% of workers said that their office is ’empty and quiet’ in the week leading up to New Year’s, which allows them to ‘get so much done.’ Additionally, 26% of professionals said that week its less stressful than other weeks.

What makes this week less stressful?

“It’s quieter, usually, and my bosses go on vacation or work from home.”

“Everyone takes off and there isn’t any drama or negativity.”

“Less people usually means less deadlines, and a more relaxed work week.”

“Not as much to do. Quieter. No traffic during commute.”

“Less email traffic because people are off.”


On the other hand, 29% said that work week is a ‘waste of time.’ That negative sentiment seems to be fading, though. Far more workers viewed the time as a detriment last year; almost half of professionals (46%) said the week leading up to New Year’s was a ‘waste of time’ in 2016. 18% of workers said that they’re more stressed during that week.

What makes this week more stressful?

“You have to balance Christmas functions and work deadlines.”

“More people out of the office and still the same amount of work.”


“Busy social calendar plus work.”

“Nobody is focused.”

Time’s running out if you’re still trying to find a gift or take a last-second vacation. And for those professionals that are just trying to survive the holidays, hang in there. Just a couple more weeks until the new year.


About Office Pulse

Office Pulse by Captivate offers marketers timely analysis and insights from a proprietary panel of upscale professionals in the top markets. The Office Pulse panel of more than 8,000 influential consumers and business decision makers includes C-level executives, Millennials, middle management, small business owners, working women and working moms.

About Captivate

Known for its vast network of nearly 12,000 elevator displays located in 1,600 premier office buildings across North America, Captivate connects advertisers with 13 million unique monthly viewers through creative, research-driven and Nielsen-measured advertising and marketing programs. By engaging its viewers with timely news and actionable information that helps balance the personal and professional demands of the workday, Captivate provides advertisers with a highly desirable and difficult-to-reach audience of affluent and influential business professionals. Founded in 1997, Captivate is owned by Generation Partners. For more information, please visit