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‘Secret Santa’ Causes Millennials Anxiety and Stress, Study Finds

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A recent study in the UK has found that millennials want to end the practice of “Secret Santa” in the workplace because it gives them anxiety and stress.

The social pressures and financial strain both factor into the study’s findings.

As Fox News reports,

British job-hunting website Jobsite reported that millennials find the 'Secret Santa' gift exchange to be anxiety-inducing -- and Dr. Ashley Weinberg, a psychology lecturer at the University of Salford in Manchester, believes it is the fear of appearing ‘stingy’ that makes the holiday tradition ‘stressful.’

The study found that 78% of millennials felt they contributed ‘more than they should’ to an office party gift compared to 58% of the rest of the workforce, while 26% of millennials admitted to dipping into savings or over-drafting their accounts to fund an office gift. Nearly 17% reported that they ‘felt judged’ by their co-workers for their choice of gift.

Jobsite says that occasions like “Secret Santa” where employees are expected to “chip in” can impact younger workers the most not only financially but also in terms of their morale, causing “a rising tide of resentment” and even feelings of "shame." 

“Just under a quarter of younger employees (22% aged 23-38) said they felt angry at the person organising the whip-round for not considering their financial situation, some are even being ‘called out’ on the amount they have contributed,” writes Jobsite.

The solution? Twenty-four percent (24%) of millennials says companies “should shoulder the burden” and have budgets for such occasions.

Jobsite also recommends that "Secret Santa," birthdays, work anniversaries and the like "be 'opt-in' rather than a requirement, and a budget range can be agreed from the offset to avoid any awkwardness" and "de-pressurise."  

The Jobsite survey of 4,000 UK workers was conducted Oct. 2019. The survey published in November included 1,054 millennial workers, ages 23-28 years old.

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