Employee Gifts Convey a Lot: Say it Right!

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Employee Gifts Convey a Lot: Say it Right!

The holidays, the end of the year, a professional or employee appreciation day… these are all occasions when it’s expected that you give gifts to your team. So often, gifting in the workplace becomes a cursory, uninspired case of going through the motions to choose something, anything, to present to employees. But it’s worth reframing your attitude toward employee gifting from drudgery to an opportunity for deeper communication with each and every individual in your employ. A well-chosen, individualized gift can speak volumes!

When you think of it that way, there’s a lot riding on the gifts you choose. Their worth to recipients can go far deeper than face value; they have the potential to represent the level of appreciation, respect and admiration you hold for them. That’s why careful consideration should be given to choosing employee gifts. Here are some guidelines for gifting employees well:

  • Determine your budget. Decide how much you want to spend on employee gifts - not just for this year, but in general. Choose a price point you’ll be able to maintain, even in potential lean years. Employees shouldn’t suffer in the gift department because the business had a slow year. (Bonuses can be distributed when you want to reward employees for a banner year.) Bear in mind that you’re able to deduct up to $25 per employee on your taxes for a physical gift; cash and gift cards are considered income and are subject to withholding. You’ll want to consult with your accountant if you have any questions whatsoever about tax deductions for employee gifts.
  • Gift equitably. It would be rare indeed to find a one-size-fits-all employee gift; one that would please and convey the intended sentiment to each and every individual in your organization. So you’ll be seeking a number of different gifts for various people, but at a similar price. In the 1988 movie, Scrooged, Bill Murray plays an executive who has chosen only two types of holiday gifts for his company to give: either a bath towel or a VCR. The value of these items vary wildly, from $10 to hundreds of dollars - a situation guaranteed to alienate those who receive the bath towel. Don’t be like Bill Murray!
  • Remember to not only keep the value of gifts in the same ballpark, but the type of gift as well. Giving one employee a work-related gift and another a personal gift will prove awkward, as would giving a serious gift to one and a gag gift to another.

  • Gift with knowledge of the recipient. There are so many perfectly appropriate and potentially-appreciated gifts out there! That being said, take into consideration the individual receiving the gift. For example, a diabetic employee would not appreciate a box of gourmet chocolates that another employee who is known to have a sweet tooth would. A plant would make a better gift for an employee who works from home than for one who travels frequently. But - an avid fan will appreciate a bio of her favorite band while being moved by the fact that you’re aware of her musical passion.
  • Go for quality every time. Employee gifts are no place to cheap-out! Remember they reflect the degree of appreciation you have for the individuals who support and carry out your business on a daily basis. So you want to choose something that conveys that sentiment. Even if you have to get something small, choose the highest quality of it rather than a medium grade of something larger. The quality will speak loudly.
  • A personal touch is appreciated and makes a huge impact. While not all gifts can be engraved or personalized, it’s a thoughtful touch when possible. It’s a classy detail that shows that the gift was selected with the recipient specifically in mind.
  • For all gifts - engraved or not - include a personal, handwritten note, expressing your gratitude for their hard work and loyalty. Mention the gift and why you thought it would be an appropriate expression of your appreciation. A sincere statement of the employee’s value to your company may prove to have a greater impact on the recipient than the gift itself!

  • Presentation matters. To wrap it up, wrap it up nicely. Every gift seems more special when it is attractively presented. Professional gift wrap or a special flair will make for an even more memorable gift.

Are you feeling at a loss as to the types of employee gifts that can fit these criteria? Think about gifts that fit into categories such as these:

  1. Health and well-being (a spa service, insulated water bottle, soothing candle)
  2. Comfort (slippers, fuzzy socks, scarf, gloves)
  3. Entertainment (event tickets, movie or museum passes)
  4. Recreation (sports, travel, camping equipment)
  5. Hobby (sewing, cooking, gardening equipment)
  6. Treat (gourmet food, coffee, sweets, alcohol)
  7. Office (organizers, desk set, decor)
  8. Gear (headphones, travel mug, phone accessory)

Employee gifts are an opportunity to communicate your gratitude and make a favorable impact upon your team. Well-chosen ones show you see them, not only as employees, but as individuals with unique personalities and interests. Employees who know they’re so valued will work harder and remain loyal.

Do you make the most of gifting your employees?

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