By Claire West

A bonus would be the best gift companies could give their staff this Christmas, according to new research published today by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM).

Nearly half (48%) of the 3,300 managers surveyed said a bonus would be the ideal Christmas present from their employer. Surprisingly, just one in ten opted for a promotion, with one in six (16%) choosing more training and development and 12% to have more staff. Just 11% would prefer to have an increased budget.

Penny de Valk, Chief Executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management, said “Financial security is clearly top of mind for workers this Christmas, with most thinking more about their wallets than their long-term career progression right now. Where possible, organisations looking to thank staff for their hard work can rest assured that some sort of seasonal bonus will be particularly well received this year.”

And it’s not just money worries keeping managers awake at night. As they prepare for the festive season, 40% of managers are concerned about the possible fallout from their office Christmas party, with over two fifths (43%) having previously witnessed or experienced conflict here. As many as one in ten managers (9%) have previously had to discipline staff for inappropriate behaviour following the work Christmas party.

In total , nearly half of those surveyed (45%) consider office Christmas parties to be fraught with difficulty, with 15% concerned they will embarrass themselves this year by getting drunk and behaving badly. 42% are afraid that staff will argue or become aggressive and nearly three quarters worry that their team members will drink too much. However, despite concerns over behaviour, over half of respondents (54%) think their office Christmas parties are good for staff engagement and are value for money.

Penny de Valk continued: “Holding an office Christmas celebration is an important and fun way for companies to celebrate employees’ hard work and success. However, if managers are concerned things may get out of hand they need to be ready to deal with problems that arise and respond effectively.”

When asked what New Year’s resolution respondents will be making this year 38% said they want to improve their work-life balance. Interestingly, only 11% will be looking for a new job, with 9% wanting to focus on keeping their current job. Almost one in five (17%) aim to be a better manager in 2011.

Penny de Valk said: “Work-life balance continues to be a real issue for UK employees. Working hours have been rising steadily for huge numbers of people and the challenging economic backdrop means that increasingly workers have been getting into the office early and staying later just to keep up with their ever growing to do lists.”

To help give managers and their staff a stress-free start to 2011, the Institute of Leadership & Management has put together its top ten tips for managing their workload. To download a copy please go to www.i-l-m.com/2011.