Love it or loathe it, Secret Santa is often part of our office and workplace festivities. A cherished holiday tradition for many in offices around the world, good old Secret Santa adds a touch of excitement and camaraderie, where colleagues buy something anonymously for a workmate, usually a £5 or £10 gift.
It's a chance for workplace bonding and encourages people to think creatively about their colleagues.
In the realm of office gifting, Secret Santa acts as a festive equaliser, too, breaking down hierarchical barriers as executives and entry-level employees get involved. It's a lighthearted way to build connections within the workplace, bringing people together in the spirit of giving.
However, amidst the joy and laughter, there is a common thread of meaninglessness woven into the fabric of office gift exchanges. The pressure to find a universally appealing yet impersonal gift often leads to the purchase of generic items that lack personal significance. Coffee mugs, scented candles, and desk accessories become the go-to choices, resulting in a sea of well-intentioned but forgettable presents. Not to mention the added plastic waste that can then be a by-product.
To counteract this, some offices have introduced themes or guidelines for their Secret Santa exchanges. Whether it's a "homemade only" rule or a focus on experiences rather than physical items, these variations aim to inject a sense of purpose and uniqueness into the tradition. Such tweaks can transform the ritual from a routine obligation into an opportunity for colleagues to showcase their creativity and thoughtfulness.
But what if we could imagine the things we'd really like from Secret Santa? What would be on your list?
For those in HR, it's about balance, wellbeing, health and, above all, happiness in their staff and teams.
Balance between staff and 'the boss'
Pertinent perhaps to Santa himself, who heads up a huge workforce, Karen Jackson, Human Resources Director at Reed shares: “As we move into 2024, there’s a need to find an equilibrium that works for both the employee and the employer. This should be able to flex to meet the needs of the business – for example, companies should move away from outlining set rules around a certain number of days working from the office and instead create a more flexible policy that can mould to evolving business and employee needs. I would also like to see the industry readily embracing and seeking to understand the full potential of AI and automation to help optimise processes, enhance decision-making and, where appropriate, deliver personalised experiences without impacting the human-to-human experience.”