Do you remember the last time you received something special at the office? I’ll bet it made your day.
Sending gifts to clients around the holidays or to say “thank you” has become routine, yet we rarely consider doing the same for employees. And if you’re not including employees on your gift list, you’re missing out on an opportunity to add value to your business by encouraging and supporting your staff.
Recognizing an employee’s efforts is a simple yet powerful way to boost performance. Employees who feel appreciated tend to work harder and remain loyal to their employers, and giving also works as an incentive for others who see that you appreciate and reward exceptional work.
It can be tricky to give gifts at work that correctly express the level of appreciation you want to show an employee. Knowing when and what to give can make all the difference.
The Giving Season? All the Time
While holiday and birthday gifts are nice, giving gifts outside the holiday season can provide some unexpected pleasures to an otherwise routine workday. The cost of a small gift is relatively low, while the payoffs in terms of relationships and employee performance can be immeasurable.
- Important dates: The anniversary of a new job, a promotion, or the birth of a child are all great opportunities for giving. It’s also nice to recognize a valued employee for working over the weekend or finishing an important project. Taking the time to notice and acknowledge a personal or professional milestone communicates a strong message that you value your employees’ time and recognize their accomplishments.
- Random times: “Just because” gifts affirm relationships and enhance personal connections even more powerfully than gifts given to mark important events. A random gift for exemplary work will encourage someone to continue to work hard, even when it seems like no one notices.
When you give a gift, be careful to reward your employees fairly. Otherwise, gift giving may seem like favoritism and discourage other workers. You don’t want to inspire jealousy or only give gifts to certain employees or departments. A balanced and sincere approach allows your employees to enjoy a sense of community and caring in the workplace.
Picking the Perfect Gift
Giving presents at work can be challenging, but not knowing what to get someone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, researchers say that this debate is actually a sign of caring.
Make sure the gifts you give reflect the personality or interests of the recipients. Some people might like gifts like these more, while others might like something like this. Give them something that shows you’ve taken the time to understand their style and taste. Be careful not to give gifts that are too personal, though. You still want to be professional and give a gift that is appropriate for your workplace.
These types of gifts can be great for employees:
- Needed gifts: These are useful gifts. Financial bonuses fall into this category, as do other value-based gifts. Insurance giant Aflac encourages its division managers to reward employee performance with stock options, cash, or time off. It’s important to make sure you connect exemplary work with this type of gift so employees know why they’re receiving it.
- Personal gifts: These are gifts that you know someone wants. A specific book on someone’s wish list or a nice bottle of wine for a collector can make the perfect gift. This type of gift also requires knowledge of an employee’s interests or preferences, which helps form an even stronger connection.
- Corporate gifts: While it’s usually best to give something personal, some work situations aren’t geared toward this type of gesture. In these cases, gift cards or specialty food baskets are practical gifts that reflect good taste. Researchers suggest that gift cards to specific restaurants or stores make especially thoughtful gifts because the recipients might not otherwise spend the money on nonessentials for themselves.
- Experiences: Giving an employee an experience is another thoughtful option. If your employee is a foodie or a golf fanatic, why not take him out for a nice dinner or an afternoon on the course? Tickets to sporting events or live entertainment also fall into this category. California-based Blanchard Training and Development gives employees movie passes on their birthdays.
- Office-related gifts: Giving someone something they can enjoy at work is another approach. This can include an item for someone’s desk or an office award for excellence. An inside joke led Hewlett-Packard to create the Golden Banana Award, which is now one of the most prestigious honors the company can bestow upon an employee.
It’s no secret that U.S.employee satisfaction in our post-recession economy is lower than most employers would like. After all, employee happiness contributes significantly to a company’s bottom line.
Gift giving is a simple, practical way to visibly increase employee happiness and boost your team’s morale. It shows appreciation and encourages a culture of kindness. So when you’re ordering gifts for your clients, consider getting something for your employees, too. It’s a small investment that can yield impressive positive returns.
About the Author: A professional ballerina-turned-entrepreneur, Emily Egbert is the co-founder of HitUp, an app that allows customers to purchase and send business gifts to clients or employees in an efficient and personalized way. Sending and receiving gifts should be as easy as sending an email or updating a social media status, yet it still takes a long time to wade through the process of purchasing a gift and sending it. HitUp is designed to change that by making it incredibly easy to send gifts and establish or build relationships offline.
Photo credit: JD Hancock