When we asked business owners what they typically get their staff each year for Christmas the answer was a chorus of 'champagne, wine, chocolates'. Now we like booze and confectionary as much as the next person but we can't help thinking that there is a better way to recognise a year of hard work than a token that would be added to the stash, was completely predictable and once consumed would be forgotten.
I’ve worked for companies where the CEO has walked around handing out branded fleeces as Christmas gifts. While these might be practical and help get your company branding out there if they wear them, and that is a big IF, it certainly didn’t feel like much of a gift to me.
Another company I worked for gave us an unexpected bonus, which was great and fully appreciated, however the expectation was set then for the following year and when they didn’t repeat their generosity many were left wondering if they had done something wrong and felt disappointed. It was also a very expensive way to show appreciation as there is a difference between actual cost of a gift and the perceived value. A gift you’ve spent £50 on, which is thoughtful will have a higher perceived value. In monetary terms, you would probably need to give at least £100 to achieve a similar perceived value.
So what can we learn from these examples?
When you give a gift whether it's for a friend, family member or colleague its got to be about and for them, not you. What will they enjoy and appreciate? And no, don't try and sneak any branding in.
When buying food and drink there are so many potential pitfalls including, dietary requirements and addictions to name a few. These aren’t things your employees may feel happy disclosing, so why put them in an awkward situation.
Giving a gift one year and not the next can be damaging to employee moral. Try and stick to a similar budget each year.
If you recruit based on values, then this is a great chance to embed and demonstrate your values further. For example if being healthy is important to your business, perhaps a gift that could help improve your employees wellbeing could be good. This could be a gift set including a great read, candle and cozy socks to help them snuggle up, relax and unwind.
Write a personal message, wrap and present the gifts at their best. Create a wow moment. If possible hand out the gift personally saying thank you as you look them in the eye - this really does make a difference.
The importance of this will vary dependant on your industry and employee demographic, if you work in an industry like advertising which is quite image conscious then it’s really important to keep this in mind. For example animal prints, brass and spotty patterns are on-trend right now. And we're not just talking about prints and materials here, also consider social trends. For example sustainability and general greater awareness of climate change is top of many peoples mind, so show you are a responsible employer by selecting gifts, which are sustainably sourced (avoid plastic) and will be valued rather than thrown away. You can read more on this in our guide to corporate gifting.
If you found this useful, for other great employee gift ideas try reading one of these other articles;