The majority (51 percent) of the UK workforce is unable to enjoy Christmas as a direct result of their jobs, according to new research from Kronos Incorporated and Censuswide1. One-third (33 percent) have to work over the festive period when they would prefer not to and nearly 44 percent find it hard to juggle work and family life during the holidays. The “Christmas Shift” research reveals the attitudes of UK employees towards working over the festive period and identifies significant differences of opinion based on gender and age.

News Facts

  • The real story of Christmas – Over half (51 percent) of UK employees cited job demands as the main reason they are unable to fully get into the Christmas spirit.
    • More than a third (37.4 percent) of employees have no control over their work schedules during the festive period.
    • In the UK, one in five have to work on Christmas Day and/or New Year’s Day.
    • A quarter of those employed in the UK have to work on Boxing Day.
    • More than two in five people (44 percent) find it difficult to juggle work and family life at this time of year.
    • A third (33 percent) of people must work at least one a day over the Christmas period when they would prefer not to.
  • Gender gap – There is a big difference in the sacrifices men and women will make to get time off over Christmas.
    • Forty percent of women surveyed would prefer to give up bank holidays at other times of the year or work twice their contracted hours for a week than work over the Christmas period.
    • A quarter of men would prefer to take a pay cut or pay a colleague to work in their place over Christmas.
    • Men are more likely to “pull a sickie” than women, with nearly a third (31 percent) of men consider taking an unplanned day off to complete last minute shopping or recover from the staff Christmas party, compared to only one-fifth (20 percent) of women.
  • A generation game – The different generational attitudes to Christmas are stark, with Millennials and Generation Z valuing time off at Christmas more highly than their older counterparts.
    • Millennials and Generation Y are the least likely to get the shifts that they want over this period (45 percent), and they are the age group most likely to “pull a sickie” at Christmas (89 percent).
  • Sector splits – There are significant differences in how employees feel about working over Christmas, depending on the sector they work in.
    • Retail and healthcare employees work the most over Christmas, though surprisingly it was those working in the IT and HR sectors that are most worried about “burning out” over the Christmas period (51 percent and 61 percent, respectively).
    • Healthcare (34 percent) and retail (37 percent) employees are most concerned that there will not be the staff resources needed for the busier Christmas period.
    • The majority of retail employees don’t mind working extra hours over the festive period (51 percent), while only a quarter prefer not to work extra hours at this time of year (25 percent).
  • Christmas saviour – Continuing to foster employee engagement over the festive period is essential if productivity and customer service levels are to be maintained. Increased remuneration is often considered the primary means to engage employees, but as the recent Workforce Engaged report by Kronos finds, pay ranks on ninth in order of importance. Feeling valued and being treated fairly rank much higher.
  • Communication with employees is crucial – Understanding the days and hours that staff would prefer to work over the festive period and creating work schedules that, where possible, take this into account and share the work across the team fairly will support greater levels of engagement and, ultimately, provide a higher level of customer service.

Supporting Quotes

  • Neil Pickering, industry and customer insights manager, Kronos Incorporated
    “Organisations that go the extra mile at Christmas to ensure workers remain motivated, productive and engaged will reap the rewards. It is important that employers start by listening to their employee needs and preferences and act upon the information to create fair and equitable work schedules. While not everyone can enjoy flexible working or extra holidays during the busiest time of the year; being fair, transparent and empowering employees to make decisions that balance the needs of the business and their personal lives will make your organisation stand out when attracting or retaining the best talent.”

1Research Methodology

The “Christmas Shift” research looks at the perceptions, preferences, opinions and work schedules of the UK workforce over the Christmas period. The results and insight is based on the responses collected from a survey of 2,015 UK citizens that are currently in full-time employment. The survey was conducted between 28 October 2016 and 1 November 2016 by independent third-party research firm Censuswide.

Supporting Resources

About Kronos Incorporated

Kronos is a global provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Kronos industry-centric workforce applications are purpose-built for businesses, healthcare providers, educational institutions, and government agencies of all sizes. Tens of thousands of organizations – including half of the Fortune 1000® – and more than 40 million people in over 100 countries use Kronos every day. Visit Kronos: Workforce Innovation That Works™.


© 2016 Kronos Incorporated. All rights reserved. Kronos and the Kronos logo are registered trademarks and Workforce Innovation That Works is a trademark of Kronos Incorporated or a related company. See a complete list of Kronos trademarks. All other trademarks, if any, are property of their respective owners.