Employers trying to bring a little holiday cheer to their employees this year should avoid passing out typical gifts like gift cards or candy, new research shows.

More than 90 percent of employees would rather receive nontypical gifts from their bosses this year, a study by staffing company Spherion revealed. Nearly 75 percent would prefer a cash bonus, while 29 percent would like an extra day off.

Other holiday "gifts" employees prefer from their employer include a handwritten thank-you card or a lavish company holiday party.

"Workers want to show respect and appreciation for others, but they also want to receive gratitude from their co-workers and bosses, and not just in the form of gifts," Sandy Mazur, Spherion's division president said. "There are many other ways to give thanks besides a traditional holiday gift."

Bosses aren't the only ones buying gifts this year. More than half of employees will buy a present for someone in the office, with 27 percent picking up something for their boss.

The research shows that when it comes to gifts for bosses, the desire to get ahead and outdo other colleagues are factors in deciding whether or not to give them something. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed think that most employees give gifts to their bosses in order to get ahead, with 11 percent trying to spend more on a gift for their superior than their co-workers as a way to outshine them.

In addition to buying presents for their bosses, 36 percent of employees will get something for a co-worker. Among those, 60 percent said they do so because they want to, not because they feel obligated.

However, finding the right present for an office peer isn't an easy task. Nearly 40 percent said buying gifts for co-workers stresses them out as much as buying gifts for others on their shopping list.

Employees are split on how much to spend for bosses and co-workers. The study found that 44 percent said the maximum amount they have spent on a present is less than $20, with 42 percent having shelled out more than $26 for a gift for someone in the workplace.

While many workers will spend time searching for the perfect gift for a boss or co-worker, their effort often is for naught, as 25 percent said they have returned a gift given to them from someone in the office.

The study was based on surveys of 970 U.S. employees over age 18.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.