Millennials aren’t interested in participating in the office “Secret Santa,” according to a new study by the British job-hunting website, Jobsite, because the practice is “stressful” and anxiety-inducing.
“Secret Santa” is, of course, a regular practice among work colleagues during the holidays. It’s often preferred to other practices because organizers can limit the budget spent on gifts, and it doesn’t align with any specific religious holiday, so it doesn’t leave anyone out of the loop (though, of course, jolly ol’ St. Nick is identified with Christmas).
But Millennials – facing the blame for killing everything from home ownership to landline telephones to sit-down Pizza Hut – are tired of participating in mandatory holiday activities at work and would rather corporate America keep the gift-giving private.
Jobsite’s study focused on the “negative effects” of Secret Santa and “it found that some millennials – Yes, of course, it’s millennials – have been suffering from anxiety as a result of their workplace Secret Santa,” reports viral news site Twenty-Two Words.
The study, they say “found that younger workers are often spending more than they can afford on presents for their colleagues” in order to avoid being “judged” for their selection or thought “cheap” by their peers. Even though most Secret Santa groups set a budget, Millennials say they feel pressure to “up their game” in order to fit in with their colleagues.
Beyond that, Millennials apparently report that they feel “angry” at office party organizers who don’t take Millennials’ much-reported dire financial straits into consideration when instituting a Secret Santa game. That builds resentment among Millennial workers which can lead to inter-office tiffs and a decline in workplace morale among Millennial colleagues.
A psychologist who spoke to Twenty-Two Words agrees – at least with regard for temperamental Millennials.
“I think there’s the potential for the whole range of human emotions, right from humiliation when you give someone a gift,” the psychologist said. “It’s important to us how others feel about our behavior and how it comes across.”
Unfortunately for the office busybody and the office party-planning committee, its not just Secret Santa that puts Millennials on edge, either. Jobsite found that all forced workplace socializing has the same effect, even office birthday parties (and yes, even if they feature free cake).
Millennials are just generally worried about being judged, and it leaks into all aspects of their work lives.
Jobsite suggests that up to 35% of Millennials say they want to see Secret Santa banned – holiday cheer be damned! — and a similar number is aiming straight at office birthday parties.
Instead, psychologists and workplace moral experts suggest that bosses and party-planners take “mental health” into consideration when organizing work events and plot holiday-themed activities that will appear to workers across the board, regardless of salary or rank. Perhaps a “non-denominational totally-not-a-holiday-party” might work well.
Secret Santa, of course, is just the latest target in a more widespread “war” on holiday fun and frivolity. As the holiday season rolls around, expect to be inundated with requests to tamp down holiday cheer in the name of inclusion across the spectrum.