What’s the Best Way to Gift Employees at Christmas?

What's the best way to gift your office employees at Christmas?


What’s the best way to gift your office employees at Christmas?

’Tis the season to be jolly, and if you’re an employer, that means ’tis the season to be generous. Deciding exactly how to gift your employees, however, can be tricky. A fine line separates a present and an insult, so you may want to think twice before ordering 400 matching T-shirts for your hard-working staff. For expert advice, we turn to Sandra Reder, owner of Vancouver-based Vertical Bridge Corporate Consulting Inc.; Mike Lam of Vancouver-based HR firm Inmotion Talent Ltd.; and Helen Luketic at the BC Human Resources Management Association. Don’t Play Favourites Sure, there are a few stars in every company, but it’s best to play a fair hand during the holidays. “If you’re going to give Bob in accounting an $80 bottle of Scotch and you’re going to give Jim over in purchasing a $4 box of chocolates, it doesn’t look right,” says Reder. “Do that at another time of year when there is not that expectation that everybody gets something.” A Bonus Isn’t Necessarily a Bonus If you prefer to dole out bonuses instead of gifts, remember that anything over $25 is taxable, which means a $50 bonus can be more onerous than pleasant. “I think it is important to separate any gift giving and bonuses,” says Lam. “Bonuses, like all compensation, should be tied to job performance. In contrast, Christmas gifts don’t relate to any behaviours at all. If such a separation does not exist, the potential impact can be a blurring in the lines that your staff sees between their job performance and reward.” Do It Right If you’re going to choose gifts, make sure it comes from the heart. Luketic remembers when her father, a 20-year employee, was given a leather bomber jacket by his company’s new owners. “The owner gave a gift that no one cared for, as my father doesn’t do leather jackets,” she recalls. “So the lesson there is to make sure that the employee will value the gift; otherwise it’s a wasted investment.” Go the distance If you’re really at a loss for what to buy your employees at Christmas, ask. Employees will appreciate that you took the time to find out what they like, and you won’t waste your budget on unwanted gifts. “If you’re going to do it, do it authentically,” advises Reder. “Don’t make your employees feel like you’re going, ‘Oh crud, I have to do something for these guys.’ Do it because you really appreciate them.” Create traditions If your holiday celebrations are inclusive and quirky, the focus will be more about wrapping up the year in good spirits than gifts. “It could be as simple as holding a barbecue where upper management cooks and serves to staff,” says Lam. “I have known of companies that hold a sales contest where the winners get their car washed by a manager of their choice.”