Christmas stockings left empty in most U.S. offices

Dec. 22, 2010 at 12:52 PM ET

AFP - Getty Images /
Christmas is popular in many Asian countries, including South Korea.

Christmas is just around the corner, and by now all your presents are no doubt wrapped and ready to go, but have you received a seasonal gift from your employer?

Probably not, because fewer than half of U.S. employers are likely to hand out Christmas gifts to their employees, according to a global survey of workers.

The practice apparently is far more prevalent in other countries, especially in northern Europe but also surprisingly in Asia, according to Randstad, a Dutch-based global staffing and human resources company.

In the United States, only 13 percent of those surveyed “strongly agreed” that their employer normally hands out Christmas gifts, while 31 percent “agreed,” for a total of 44 percent. A total of 41 percent expected to receive a gift this year from their employer.

By contrast in the Netherlands, where the practice appears to be widespread, nearly 80 percent of employees surveyed said they expected to receive a Christmas gift from their employer. The practice also appears relatively common in Scandinavian countries, Poland and Greece, according to the global Workmonitor survey.

But the country where year-end largesse seems most likely this year is China, which is known for its culture of gift-giving, if not for Christmas. A total of 88 percent of Chinese employees surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they are likely to get a Christmas gift from their employer, and 95 percent said they expected to get a year-end financial bonus.

In India, 66 percent said they expected to get a Christmas gift. But in Japan only 12 percent of workers said they expected to get one.

We don’t want to draw any huge conclusions from this data, but we will simply note that the Netherlands also is the home to some of the world’s most satisfied workers, with 80 percent satisifed or very satisfied, according to the survey. In Japan, where economic growth has been virtually non-existent for a decade, only 6 percent of workers are very satisfied and another 33 percent say they are satisfied. U.S. workers rank fairly high on the satisfaction index, while Chinese workers rank low.

The quarterly Workmonitor, which has been around since 2003, covers 27 countries, with a minimum of 400 workers surveyed in each country. You can find recent editions at the Randstad website.