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  • Brian Reynolds

Is Your Company Giving Gifts to Employees This Season?

The Gift That Keeps on Giving!

In 1977 Kodak Camera ran an ad over the Christmas season promoting one of their instamatic cameras featuring the slogan, “The gift that keeps on giving picture after picture.” A variation of this slogan was also used in the 60’s and 70’s by Victor Radio, Hotpoint Appliances, DuMont Electronics (“The Gift that keeps on Giving.”) and Godiva Chocolates in 2016 (“The Box that keeps on Giving”).

The slogan is meant to stir up our emotions when we receive a present and if we can feel that joy over and over again it truly is the “gift that keeps on giving.”

What Makes a Gift Special?

I was recently speaking with a friend and during our conversation she said, “I really hope our company doesn’t give me another Santa coffee mug filled with chocolate Santa’s!” We may laugh, but open your kitchen cupboard and what do you see? My local thrift store is now the proud owner of 10 different Santa mugs collected over the years!

Not everyone appreciates a gift but we all like recognition of some form. In The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White they state: “There are two key components necessary for tangible rewards to be truly encouraging to those who receive them. First, you need to give gifts primarily to those individuals who appreciate them. Secondly, you must give a gift the person values.”   

Find out what type of gift is important and meaningful

If you have decided to give gifts to your employees this Christmas spend some time understanding what is appropriate to each individual. What is important to them? (There is a reason why Santa Claus asks us to write a wish list!) How do you find out what they like? Look around their office or cubicle. I recently visited a client and noticed a collection of ‘Pez’ characters (the name PEZ comes from the German word for peppermint, “Pffefferminz” taking the P from the first letter, E from the middle letter and Z from the last letter to form the now iconic brand name PEZ). I know what I’m getting her for Christmas!

What are your employees reading? During lunch breaks observe what foods they like. Do you talk about movies they’ve attended? What theatrical or sports events are they interested in? Are they going away for the holiday season? Where are they going? These are all great clues which will help you to pick up a small and meaningful gift.

What if we have a small or no budget at all?

If your organization has a larger work force, you might be thinking, “we don’t have time to go around and ask everyone what they want for Christmas!” A great way to get your management team involved is to ask your managers or supervisors to find out what their team members like and have them provide you with some ideas. Once you have your list ask for volunteers to help out to purchase appropriate gift cards or gifts.

If you don’t have a budget for gifts this year, recognition can be given in different ways to show your employees that they matter.  Handwritten notes of appreciation, team building exercise, afternoon off, and so on.

Food, Glorious Food!

What is more popular and engaging today other than giving gifts? Food! Try planning a small luncheon and ask everyone to contribute a dish from their country of origin. One company I worked for did this at Christmas and it was amazing! Not only do you get to enjoy new foods but you also have an opportunity to get to know each other’s cultures and traditions better.

Supply Santa or elf hats and bells from the dollar store. You’ll have everyone talking about this well into the new year! It creates some great memories and can lead to a positive work environment.

What about those who don’t celebrate Christmas?

What employers can do to make their workplaces more inclusive during the holidays.1 Here are some examples from the company ‘the Balance Careers’:

  1. Make sure that your holiday party isn’t a Christmas party in disguise.

  2. Make the decorations and food general and not specific to any religion.

  3. Consider having a New Year’s party instead of a holiday party. This type of party can get everyone on board with the company’s mission and vision for the New Year. Some companies elect to skip holiday parties and hold a party during the company’s birthday month or during a less busy time of the year so that more employees and their spouses and partners are able to attend.

  4. Don’t serve a holiday luncheon on the day when some employees may be fasting for Ramadan. Serve vegetarian options at the company hot dog lunch and for that matter, whenever the company orders and serves food.

Whatever route you decide, whatever your budget is (or isn’t), attempt to make it meaningful and authentic. Engage everyone where possible. Most importantly, remember to give a small, hand-written card with your gifts! Nothing speaks louder than a sincere, hand-written card as opposed to a pre-printed message. The majority of people value and appreciate kind words at this time of year. Thank them for who they are. Mention their family. If they’re not used of hearing encouraging words before, why not start now?

Give them the gift that keeps on giving!  

1. the Balance Careers, SIMMA LIEBERMAN  Updated October 26, 2018


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