3 Gift Ideas Employees Will Actually Value

The holiday season is often a time of both joy and stress for business-owners and executives. They are excited to spend time with friends and family and to celebrate the season, of course, but pending year-end deadlines and annual strategic planning can add pressure to the end of the year. When it comes to employee […]

The holiday season is often a time of both joy and stress for business-owners and executives. They are excited to spend time with friends and family and to celebrate the season, of course, but pending year-end deadlines and annual strategic planning can add pressure to the end of the year. When it comes to employee gifting, the most well-intentioned ideas can become an afterthought. I encourage you to take the pressure off and redefine what giving a gift truly means to you. Is it meant to build rapport? Celebrate a job well done? Make the company seem like a great place to work? Getting clear on your intention behind the gift will help you identify where to focus. I also recommend doing something that represents your company’s core values. Is one of your values serving others? Perhaps you make a charitable donation in your employee’s name. Do you emphasize fun at work? Buy an office ping-pong table and organize a holiday tournament over happy hour.

Gary Beckstrand, Vice President at O.C. Tanner reminds us
that gifts don’t need to be
expensive or extravagant
. Putting in the effort to show your
employees that you know and appreciate them is what matters most. A small token
can go a long way; according to a survey by gifting blog Knackshops,
81% of employees say they feel appreciated when they receive gifts from their
employer, and 56% feel recognized for doing a good job. Use these three
employee-approved categories to give your staff an extra boost to their holiday

Give the Gift of Time

Employees agree that extra time off, especially during the
holidays, is a huge gift. One woman remarked that when her employer closed the
office during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, “it felt like I got a
million-dollar check. I’d never take that week off, but now I have it to spend
time with my family.” Closing the office during high PTO weeks can also
increase team morale as those left behind aren’t struggling to cover for their
co-workers on vacation. Giving employees time off to spend with family and
friends also shows them you value their lives outside of work; this goes an
especially long way with younger employees.  Giving the gift of time can also occur outside
of the normal calendar holidays. Minnesota company Clockwork closed
on Election Day
in order to give all employees easy access to
voting. Other companies choose to give employees the day off on their birthday
or offer shorter “summer hours.” If you choose to do this, just remember to
share your excitement about this initiative during the holiday gifting season!

Make it Meaningful
and Memorable

Often the most meaningful gifts are homemade or low-cost.
When it comes to a good gift, it’s truly the thought that counts. Showing your
employees that you know their individual interests goes a long way in creating
a memorable present. Are they service-minded? Donate to their favorite charity.
Do they love to travel or have family out of state? Give them an airline
voucher to use toward their next trip. Are they an avid cook? Find a nice knife
set or fancy olive oil. The key here is to pick out something that shows you
thought of them. Adding a kind, handwritten note also goes a long way. Just make
sure to keep all of your gifts in the same price range to keep everything fair.

If individual giving isn’t your thing, curate a fun
experience for your team. There are many companies that cater to this, from fun
escape rooms to private whiskey tastings. Even a simple holiday potluck at the
office spreads joy and boosts team bonding. In fact, giving experiences over
things may lead to better long-term benefits, as scientific
studies show
that experiences create more lasting happiness than
material goods.

Wellness Wins

As our society becomes increasingly concerned with fitness
and wellness, gifts that help employees on their health pursuits are sure to be
well received. Many companies choose to give employees memberships to close-by
gyms, promoting a healthy lifestyle. Another company I know gave all of their
employees FitBit trackers for their holiday gift; this led to positive
competition within the office. If you’d rather give a group gift, bringing in a
masseuse for an hour or having a yoga teacher come in for a class are good
ideas. This will not only increase team bonding, but also show the company
values health. According to the American Institute of Stress,
work and the workplace are by far the biggest causes of stress for Americans. Take
it upon yourself to help decrease that stress for your employees; they will
appreciate it and you will see positive results in their loyalty and effort.

Regardless of what you choose to give this holiday season, do so with an open heart and kind intentions. Also keep in mind that not everyone celebrates the holidays, so be sure to keep office events optional and non-denominational. As the boss, it is your responsibility to set the tone for celebrating and communicating expectations. And last but not least, take a cue from A1 Garage Door founder Tommy Mello and remember that gift giving can occur all year. You never need a reason to say, “thank you,” give specific praise or write your employee a kind note; these are all gifts! Happy Holidays!

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