Gift-giving at work is a heartwarming gesture that can build rapport and even repair strained relations in the office. But there is such a thing as a bad holiday gift meant for one’s employees.
We use gifts to foster personal relationships, but the workplace threatens this act with interpersonal weirdness. The strictures of a corporate culture and a hierarchy among adults can make some gifts for employees seem superficial or even patronizing.
Examples include a company-branded gift, like a trinket or clothing item carrying the company logo. This can send a message of unwillingness by a boss to spend their own money on a gift, or that a worker’s value lies only in their contribution to a boss’ advancement. Lottery tickets are another gift whose attempt at holiday cheer can fall flat. Bosses usually make more than their employees, and lottery tickets rarely win, thus they can feel like a patronizing tease toward lessening the income disparity between manager and worker.
Luckily there are many gifts less likely to convey ill feelings and are confirmed by workers as highly appreciated.
Money, in the form of cash or a bonus, is a great gift as long as the employee doesn’t view it as part of their earned compensation package. Consumables and gifts that support an employee’s non-work life are always a big hit, like grocery store gift cards, restaurant discounts, steak, olive oil, or Harry and David fruit baskets. Experiences are also popular gifts that employees enjoy receiving, like a hosted team dinner, a gift card for a movie night, or simply an extra day of paid time off during or after the holidays.
A gift that includes a personal effort by the boss also goes a long way to build rapport, like taking everyone to a race track, dressing up like Santa or paying for a nice group lunch.
For a truly unique gift for your employees that keep son giving all year long, consider rotating art for your office. The gift of art for the office space suggests a boss cares about their employees experience, not just their productivity, and assumes they share an artistic appreciation with their coworker. It’s an excellent conversation starter, whether about the artist, the genre or other art exhibits in the city.
Artwork for offices can spark unique conversation, and can even boost worker productivity. Viewing a compelling piece can spark the creative juices, and studies now show that art can increase happiness and stimulate blood flow to the brain in a way similar to being in love.
Finding the right gift for one’s employees is not easy, and the wrong gift could sour office relations. Find a gift that is truly meaningful to your employees and improves both your relationships and office space.
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