What do employees love most about the holidays in the workplace?

From happy co-workers (yay!) to employee potlucks (meh), a new survey uncovers what's behind the spirit of the season.

What do employees love most about the holidays in the workplace?

Goodwill to all! Snow! Sleigh bells! It’s a Wonderful Life marathons! That Mariah Carey song ad nauseam! Depending on whom you ask, there are different reasons as to exactly what makes the holidays “the most wonderful time of the year.”

So powerful is the spirit of the season, even the workplace isn’t immune to the influx of cheer. Randstad US recently surveyed 1,232 employees to find out what they love most about the holiday season.

70% said “time off”

No surprise there. After working hard for 12 months, you’re naturally going to welcome the chance to spend quality time—including daylight hours—in your pajamas. No meetings, no clients or customers, and no conference calls. Nothing but precious time off to catch up with family and friends, oh, and lots of leftovers. But as much as employees look forward to time off, too many fail to actually take their vacation days, collectively losing as many as 662 million days annually. Please, do not let this happen to you. Take your days. You earned them. Alternately, you could find a job at a company that offers unlimited vacation days. Then any day could be like Christmas.

54% said “holiday spirit in the workplace”

The phrase “holiday spirit” sounds a lot more magical than it is in reality. Your attitude accounts for a lot when it comes to how energized you feel in your work environment. Having a positive outlook will help cultivate that anything-is-possible feeling that gives you that spirited sensation at this time of year.

41% said “happier co-workers”

People tend to be nicer this time of year (maybe because they know they’ve got time off coming), which makes all the difference at the office. When you’re in a good mood, your job is going to be much more pleasant overall—and you’ll probably wind up churning out better quality work. Now imagine having this positive experience every single day at work, not just during the holidays. It’s possible. Take some time to figure out what you need in order to be happy in any job.

34% said “getting a bonus”

Here’s another no-brainer. Unwrapping a sweet holiday bonus is a solid indication that you’ve made Santa’s “nice” list. If you’re not sure whether or not your company is handing out bonuses, don’t write them off as a bunch of Scrooges just yet. Think ahead to next year; there are ways to document your accomplishments during the year that will boost your chances of getting a holiday bonus.

33% said “holiday parties”

Who doesn't love free food and a chance to watch Doug from IT do his Bing Crosby impression? True, office holiday parties come with an important list of do's and don'ts, but if you play your cards right, you can turn the shindig into a key opportunity to get in front of (and impress) company bigwigs. Just remember, it's a work event, which means you're technically still at work, which means you should behave as such.

22% said “employee potluck”; 11% said cookie exchanges; 9% said gift swaps

Like the office holiday party, any instance where you're celebrating with co-workers should give you cause to pause. Whether you're exchanging food or presents, pay attention to gift-giving protocol among co-workers. Be considerate, and use good judgment. Nobody thinks that vaguely inappropriate/offensive/bizarre gift is even remotely charming. 

Nearly a third admit to job searching or exploring during the holidays

With all that time off, it's a great time to update your resume and start browsing Monster. Contrary to popular belief, hiring doesn't come to a halt in December; in fact, plenty of companies are trying to complete end-of-year hires before the clock runs out. Your gift to yourself just might be a new job.