Tips on How to Reward Your Employees
Remember that awesome gift you got from your boss that one time? No, you don’t. Nobody does. But everyone definitely remembers the crappy ones. The ones that felt like a stinging slap in the face on a cold winter day.
Good gift giving for employees can be as tricky as untangling all the strings of holiday lights in your Christmas tote at the top of your garage shelving. So here’s our top 3 Dos and Don’ts for corporate gifting to help keep you in your employees’ good graces this holiday season.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
Waiting until the very last minute to figure out your gift plan can really put you in a (Christmas) pickle. First, there’s the supply chain issues right now that could keep your tangible items sitting offshore for months. You also don’t want to settle on whatever you can find that will arrive in time. Your employees will be able to tell when things have been rushed or grabbed last-second from the dollar store. And what does it say about you that you “forgot” to get them something?
Plus, keep in mind that many employees take time off toward the end of the year. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to thank them for all of their hard work. Schedule a time during work hours (some people can’t make after-hours parties for various caregiving or other reasons) to recognize your team.
Don’t Be Cheap
You most certainly should set a budget for your gifts to employees. You are a business owner after all. But don’t pull a Jelly of the Month Club stunt like in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. If in years past you’ve given more but the pandemic or other things have really hit the business hard, be transparent. Your employees will understand.
A lower budget just means you can get more creative with the gifts. Not all gifts have to be cash or high-end electronics. An extra few hours off before the holidays can be more valuable than stuff. Just show that you care in a genuine way.
Don’t Be Cliche
Have you ever noticed the pile of coffee mugs at every garage sale ever? What do those piles have in common? They never shrink! No one wants them. Don’t be the boss who gives garage sale junk! Even if you put a packet of hot chocolate in them, it’s no good.
Think more outside the box. Sure, everyone loves a good cheese ball and summer sausage, but that doesn’t mean they make a good gift for your employees. You’re better than that. If you’re a tech company, consider what other tech is out there that your employees may like. If your business provides a service that requires outside work, get your employees a nice jacket. You get the idea.
Do Ask for Input
So what do your employees want? Well, ask them. Don’t just guess and fail. If you’ve got a Fun Committee or even just a couple of extroverts who talk with most of the other employees, bounce some ideas off of them.
Bringing in some help doesn’t mean you don’t care; it means that you value their opinions and care enough to get gifts that they actually will use. Just be sure not to outsource the entire gift-giving process or you can seem out of touch.
Do Get Personal
No, putting your company logo on a gift does not make it personal. That is just swag that you can get at any lousy tradeshow to bring home to your kids as a “souvenir from your trip.” There is a time and place and purpose for company swag, but we assure you—this is not it!
Your employees each bring something unique to your business. Your sales team definitely dances to a different beat than your service team. Not to get all mushy on you, but you owe it to them to recognize them in a more way that says you “see” them and you think they’re great. (OK, shake it off, that was weird.) But, seriously, don’t settle for the same thing for everyone. That won’t be memorable, or it will be in a bad way.
Do Say Thank You
Your mother taught you to be polite, so don’t let her down. Gifts are great and will be appreciated, but your words will matter just as much. In fact, a study from Deloitte says that 85% of employees just want to hear a simple “thank you” at the end of the day. So make a big deal of this. Maybe even make a point to publicly acknowledge certain staff who have gone above and beyond in front of the entire team so that their efforts can be rewarded and praised by others, as well.
Or your thank you can come in a handwritten note or maybe even just a trip around the office to shake hands to look people in the eye and say something nice. Don’t give anyone the firepower to say that the boss doesn’t even know their name (even if you need the desk nameplates to help you … we won’t tell).
The Goal: Show Them You Care
Sincere appreciation and gratitude should be the main goals of your gift-giving endeavors. Not only does showing your appreciation help with team morale and employee retention—you know, those business terms that translate into keeping your business alive—but just plain feels good. Take advantage of this time to connect and come together after twelve months of hard work and sacrifice. Whether it’s a gift, an extra day off, a handshake, or a shared on-tap brew at the local brewery after work, a little connection can go a long way.