The Who, When, Why, and How of Employee Gifting

On the surface, an employee gift might seem simple. It’s a practice you do during the holidays, perhaps, and while you know that you need to make your gifts memorable, you don’t always spend a lot of time focused on the practice.

However, employee gifting isn’t just about an object. It’s a powerful tool for your business development. When you give memorable, personal gifts to your employees, you create connections within your business that will strengthen the way that your business works and could even create a positive impact on your business’s bottom line. If thoughtful business gifting is not a part of your regular routine, it’s time to think more about employee gifting practices and how they can strengthen your business relationships.

Why Give to Your Employees? 

According to Forbes, “managers often view ‘appreciation’ as one of those soft HR concepts that in the hard business world doesn’t matter much.”  The Forbes post goes on to describe chronic “emotional stinginess” in companies. This emotional stinginess can lead to dissatisfied employees who may ultimately leave the company because they don’t feel appreciated, leading to many extra costs for that company and potential loss of business as you need to spend time bringing a new employee up to the past employee’s level of performance.

An employee who feels appreciated is an employee that you want to have at your company. Of course, the culture of a company is not only set by gifting. But, gifting can play a strong role in setting a tone for the company and its relationships with its employees. A well-considered gift acts as a type of social glue in an organization.

Gifts are all about setting up a reciprocal relationship between you and your employees. While you might not give with the expectation of receiving, gifting has that effect. A gift that is memorable has an impact on your employees. They feel more connected to you, and they want to reciprocate through words and actions.

According to the Business Gifting Survey, those who receive a memorable gift as 34 percent more likely to say that they feel more connected to the giver, and they are 28 percent more likely to want to work with the giver for a longer time. Since Employee Benefit News estimates that it costs “employers 33% of a worker’s annual salary to hire a replacement if that worker leaves,” this employee satisfaction can have real financial benefits for your company, even if that’s not what you directly intended when you gave that gift of appreciation.

Who Should You Celebrate? 

Who should you celebrate at work? The answer is simple: everyone. All of your employees deserve to be appreciated, and in return, they will enjoy it and feel more connected to your business. If you are giving to the C-Suite, know that they are sometimes overlooked as “the people who have everything” but that they appreciate gifting as much if not more than your other employees.

This doesn’t mean that you celebrate everyone in the same way, however. What do you need to consider when celebrating?

  • Avoid gifts that are too personal. For instance, flowers and jewelry are often considered to be more romantic gifts than business gifts.
  • Understand each person’s background and know what to give. Does your employee have allergies? Have they had challenges with alcohol in the past? If so, carefully consider what types of food or drink to give.
  • Think about what is culturally appropriate. Different people have different beliefs about how to celebrate and what to celebrate. Remain culturally-conscious in your giving practices.
  • Most of all, think about your employees as individuals. As people, what do they enjoy? Make your gift as personal as possible, and your employees will appreciate it even more.

When Should You Celebrate? 

When it comes to celebrating your employees, there is no lack of potential celebration. You’ll need to choose what you want to celebrate consistently and when you want to give a spontaneous gift as well.

Holidays at the end of the year such as Christmas are often times when employers give gifts. Keep two things in mind when you’re celebrating at this time of the year. Some of your employees might not celebrate Christmas. Also, they will be receiving many gifts, and yours can get lost in the group.

Some alternate good time to recognize and celebrate employees include:

  • Celebrating business milestones. If your business recently celebrated an anniversary or recognized an important milestone, then that’s likely thanks to the efforts of your employees. You can give them a gift to celebrate.
  • Celebrating personal work milestones such as a retirement, a promotion, or a first year of work at your company.
  • Thanking employees personally for a specific effort on a project, one that was outstanding or difficult.
  • Giving employees recognition for personal milestones such as completing an educational degree or having a baby.

And note: it’s not important to celebrate just on standard holidays. In fact, when you’re appreciating your employees, it’s even more important to celebrate those smaller, more individual milestones that occur throughout the year. Why is this the case?

  • Many people celebrate the holidays, and the message of your gift can be lost in the sea of other gifts that your employee receives. It doesn’t feel as personal.
  • Knowing your employees’ milestones shows that you understand your employees. It makes them feel appreciated right away because they see that you appreciate their first work anniversary or know their birthday.
  • Your gift is more likely to stand out if you give it at a different time of the year. Luckily, there are many times when you can celebrate.

 Creating Stronger Business Gifting Practices 

According to Inc, “It’s hard to select a gift that will be seen as meaningful to employees. Many employees are left dissatisfied — in 2004, several Google employees whined about the ‘cheap’ holiday gift they received, a $200 LG smartwatch.”

While the cost of a gift is one part of the business gifting equation, there are many aspects that your employees quietly and unconsciously consider as they think about the gift that you have given them. Is it memorable? Making a gift satisfying and memorable requires information about your employees. There are also a number of practices that almost always make employees feel like they’re received a memorable gift. Some of these from the Knack 2019 Business Gifting Survey are as follows:

  • Notice and anticipate needs. For instance, if your employee always has cold hands in the winter, giving a gift of warm, handmade gloves is a thoughtful gift.
  • Focus on social causes, particularly for the C-Suite and Millennials. These groups are particularly interested in receiving socially-engaged gifts such as items made by fair trade companies or female-run companies. This gift lets them know that you understand their values, appreciate them, and you’re trying to echo them in your business gifting. Made in the USA gifts, handmade gifts, and sustainable gifts are the ones most appreciated by those who want to see their gift reflect their most important social causes.
  • While some younger men enjoy gifts with a corporate logo on it, these gifts feel less personal and memorable to your employees. They feel more like corporate swag than an authentic, thoughtful gift. If you need to put your logo on a gift, put it on the box.
  • Tangible and lasting items are an excellent complement to items such as gift cards or consumables. Pair those with a more lasting, thoughtful item to round out your gift. While employees value gift cards, they aren’t as memorable without a message or a tangible item to go alongside the gift card.
  • Personalized, monogrammed gifts are a hit, ranking even higher in memorability than those that contain a personal message. If you’re giving wine glasses for a wedding celebration, give ones with a name on them.
  • The C-Suite and junior employees love to receive gifts that are shareable. This allows them to feel generous as well as feeling appreciated.
  • Give a quality gift. The price of the gift matters less than the quality that you choose. For instance, if you’re giving chocolates, choose high-end chocolates that the recipient might not choose for himself.

How to Give Your Gift 

Finally, how you give is just as important as what you give. For instance, giving a gift that contains a personal message and highlights the story behind the gift is highly impactful for your employees. It makes them feel understood and valued. Also, a gift that is well-presented gives your employees an unboxing experience that is enjoyable and part of the overall positive gifting experience. Give them the opportunity to anticipate the gift and appreciate the unwrapping process, creating anticipation about the gift itself. Finally, social media has had an impact on gifting. Forty-five percent of Millennials like to share their gifts on social media. Make sure that your gift has elements of visual appeal in the gift or in the packaging so that your employees will be proud to share it online.

At Knack, we know business gifts. We’re here to support your business in developing your business gifting practices. Talk to us to today to learn more about Knack’s employee gifting programs.