Cartoon of Santa Claus reading emails on his smartphone carrying a sack of presents. Pink background.
Image: © tarikdiz/

One in four workers expect to respond to emails over Christmas

20 Dec 2023

‘Tis the season? Workhuman research says employees are stressed about finances, gift-giving pressures and the never-ending blizzard of emails in their inboxes over the holidays.

Beware the scourge of emails over the festive period – or should that be Scrooge? According to a survey of Irish workers, many are going to be checking their phones for work emails in one hand while holding a mince pie in the other.

Tech company Workhuman uncovered this rather unsettling scenario when it surveyed 1,000 full-time Irish workers in November 2023. Rather than looking forward to a relaxing Christmas, it seemed as though most had concerns about switching off and abandoning workloads.

More than one in four (27pc) said they expected to respond to work emails while on holidays. Almost one quarter (22pc) of employees said they will not be able to fully switch off from work, while 28pc admitted that their large workload means they can’t take as much time off as they would like to.

“Our research has shown that while this is an exciting time of year, it can also be a stressful one. Financial, familial and professional pressures can impact employees over the holiday season,” said Niamh Graham, SVP of global human experience at Workhuman.

Graham added that “When done right, company culture can help to alleviate some of this stress, rather than being a cause of it.

“Ensuring employees are using their paid time off and have a solid coverage plan so they can truly unplug over the holidays is a practice leadership should demonstrate and encourage.”

As well as the thought of work hanging over them for the holidays, workers are also stressed about the consumerism aspect of Christmas. More than half (58pc) said they worried about the financial burden of buying Christmas gifts this year. Respondents expect to spend an average of around €974 each on Christmas gifts this year, according to the research. Nearly a quarter of employees said they would be buying gifts for up to 10 people.

End-of-year bonuses will be key in helping employees afford all this gift-buying, according to Workhuman’s findings.

More than a quarter (27pc) of respondents who receive end-of-year bonuses say they are essential for affording Christmas presents, while a further 53pc said they alleviate some of the financial burden.

That said, as many as half (51pc) of respondents would prefer to receive smaller spot bonuses throughout the year rather than one larger lump sum at the end of the year. Employee recognition schemes received interest from most respondents.

Finally, for people who exchange gifts with work colleagues at Christmas, Workhuman’s survey had a couple of interesting findings. Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 44pc receive Christmas gifts from their colleagues and 27pc do a ‘Secret Santa’ at work. Some 32pc get presents from their employer or manager and, of these, 95pc say they usually, or always, like them. However, 12pc admitted they usually re-gift them to someone else.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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