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Future of Work

New research reveals that it doesn’t have to be hard to be a good boss at Christmas. Bosses at Christmas worry about everything from getting ready for the January downturn in sales, to finding time to relax with family. It’s easy to think they might forget the workers in the mix.

But the majority of the nation’s small business bosses are on their way to being crowned Christmas crackers – and it’s easier and cheaper than most of them think. An average employee is perfectly happy with their boss spending £40 a head on the Christmas party – while the average boss thinks they need to spend £52. Or in other words, that’s 48 extra mince pies for each person at the Christmas do.

Despite this, the majority of bosses (7 in 10) still worry they can’t meet employee expectations and 1 in 5 don’t feel able to put on a Christmas party this year because it is too expensive.

Today’s research from Intuit QuickBooks, in partnership with Opinium Research*, 1,000 small businesses owners and their employees found that creating a great festive working environment and being a Christmas cracker is worth the investment. Over 4 in 5 employees say it makes them more positive about their job, more loyal to the company and harder working.

Hayley Penn, HR Leader at Intuit QuickBooks UK said: “Christmas can be an amazing time of year to relax and recharge, but stresses can also boil over under the pressure to have fun.

Bosses should be in no doubt of the value of treating their employees right. The Christmas crackers who invest in rewarding their employees for a year’s hard work will see another year of loyalty, effort and positivity from the workforce.

For those legitimately worrying about their cash flow and not being able to afford to splash out for the all-singing all-dancing Christmas party, there may well be no need to worry – workers say small things like decorations and music contribute almost as much to a great festive atmosphere.”

The smaller the business, the more the fears of the impact of the Christmas season. In businesses that employ fewer than ten staff, only half will put on a Christmas party, compared with 7 in 10 across all small businesses.

These fears are understandable however, with a full three quarters of workers expecting to be allowed to turn up late the day after the Christmas party without any repercussion, in fact 1 in 10 expect to skip work altogether the next day.

This dilemma can in turn lead to stress and worry for the small business owners that want to keep their workforce happy, with 3 in 10 bosses finding themselves experiencing these feelings over the Christmas period.

For those who want to do the right thing by their employees, it’s managing their cash flow that is the most serious concern, highlighted by 4 in 5 bosses.

Penn continued: “Workers have plenty of their own stresses this Christmas, juggling family time and paying out for gifts. But bosses are human too. Most of the time they’re just as worried about making the festive period go with a bang as you are. Spare a thought for those struggling with cash flow and doing their best.”

One small business that is managing tight cash flow but creating a great festive atmosphere this Christmas is Plumwood, a Rochester-based commercial vehicle compliance company.

Gary Wood, Director and co-founder of Plumwood said: “Like many small businesses, work tends to slow down in December, so we face an increasing pressure to keep costs down whilst ensuring we keep aside budget for festivities.

Nevertheless, I think it’s incredibly important to reward the team’s year-long hard-work and ensure we create a fun atmosphere. Given the gaps in age and varying expectations for the office-do in our team, we now offer vouchers for employees to spend as they wish.

Having a clear view of our finances means we know exactly how much budget we can allocate to the festive period. I’d encourage any other business owner who worries about cashflow at Christmas to use a tool like QuickBooks to get to grips with their finances.”

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