March 28, 2023

The Why and How of Employee Appreciation Gifts

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Have you ever found yourself dreading the thought of buying employee gifts because you’re not sure what to get? Or worse yet, have you ever assumed that employee gifts aren’t worth the time, effort, or money?

In a turbulent economy, that mindset can be tempting. But what if we told you that showing employees appreciation through gifts can be one of the best things for your productivity, motivation, and engagement levels? That’s right—giving out employee appreciation gifts truly is vital to making your people feel happy, valued, and engaged. And it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, either.

Why Employee Appreciation Gifts Are So Important

In a world of high turnover, high stress, and frequent burnout, appreciation can be the key to avoiding or reducing these negative outcomes. Let’s look at some stats:

One of the most powerful stats to us is that when employees feel like an individual, like they’re special, that feeling is more important for retention than compensation. Isn’t that amazing? When employees feel like you (as the company) care about them, they’re more likely to stay than if they had a better salary.

The important thing to remember is that it’s the thought that counts. Gifts don’t have to be expensive, grand, or flashy to provide these benefits. The only requirement for a good gift is thoughtfulness, not a high price tag.

  • Gifting tip: Awardco helps you provide customized gifts and rewards to all your employees, allowing them to choose the gift that means the most to them and saving you time.

Thoughtful gifts are a great way to show appreciation, convey value, and simply make employees more happy. On the other hand, thoughtless or generic gifts can do the opposite.

The Pitfall of Thoughtless Gifts

Research shows that 56% of employees say the gifts they receive from their employers are impersonal. Think about company branded swag, one-size-fits-all items, or things employees simply don’t want. These gifts actually make employees feel underappreciated and uncared for.

How to Make Gifts More Personal

Ensure that the appreciation gifts for employees you give out are personal, meaningful, and thoughtful in some way. Here are some strategies to do that:

  • Know the recipient. Get to know your employees. Talk to them, joke with them, or, if you’re too busy to get to know every employee, ask their manager to learn more about them and communicate that with you. Find out what excites and interests employees and tailor your gifts to fit that.
  • Know their values. Everyone values different things, such as family, alone time, hobbies, or humanitarian work. Think about what each employee values—if it’s family, maybe a board game would be good. If it’s humanitarian work, consider giving to charity for them, etc.
  • Know their goals and dreams. Where do your employees want to be in five years? Ten years? What inspires and motivates them? Do they want to travel the world? A travel journal or luggage set may be the perfect gift. Do they want to own their own business? Maybe some business cards or a name plaque would be meaningful.

The goal is to get to know each employee on an individual level. Get to know people by holding team activities, scheduling one-on-one meetings, or simply talking to them when you see them in the office.

Gift Ideas for Showing Employees Appreciation

We understand that knowing people’s interests, hobbies, and likes/dislikes doesn’t mean buying a gift for them is easy—we struggle to choose the right gifts for our own family members every year! Gift-giving is difficult. But when done right, nothing makes employees feel more special or cared for.

To help you get started, we came up with twelve different gift ideas for employees. Hopefully these will spark other inspiration that helps you find the perfect gifts for your people.

1. Desk Plants

For those who appreciate a bit of green, a desk plant or some flowers for either home or the office is a great, budget-friendly idea. Plus, plants in the office can actually increase happiness and productivity!

2. Board or Card Games

As we mentioned before, people who value spending time with loved ones will almost always appreciate this gesture. Games are a great way to spend time together, and with these gifts, you show that the company prioritizes employee work-life balance.

3. Learning Experiences

For those who want to keep learning and improving, a class or experience can be an amazing gift. Find out what employees are interested in learning more about, and find a way to give the gift of learning.

4. Consultations With Experts

Do your employees have big decisions or plans to make? Whether they want to start investing, buy a new house, or redo their indoor decor, a consultation with an expert could be just the thing they need.

5. Handwritten Notes

One of the simplest and most affordable gifts of appreciation for employees is a handwritten note. When you or a manager writes a note to an employee, you show them that you appreciate and value them enough to take the time to do something personal and genuine. These can be extremely meaningful and valuable.

6. Gift Cards

Gift cards may not be the best option, but that depends on how you use them. As long as you know what your employees like and value, you can get them a gift card that means the world to them. Cards to the spa, a grocery store, or a specific dessert shop can all be fun and exciting gifts.

7. Charity Donations

For a more philanthropic gift, consider giving something to charity in your employees’ names. Ask the employees their favorite charity, and then donate for them.

8. Personalized Gift Baskets

This is especially great for remote employees. Send or give a basket with a few personalized items, such as the employee’s favorite snack, a gift card, a hobby item, and a personalized article of clothing.

9. Food or Meals

Free food is always a safe bet. Provide free breakfast or lunch at your office, send delivery to those working from home, or give out gift cards to employees’ favorite restaurants. Everyone’s gotta eat, right?

10. Books, eBooks, or Audiobooks

Many people love to read, whether that’s with a device, a pair of headphones, or a physical book. Learn which employees like to read and which medium they prefer, and then give them a book, an ebook, or credit for their audio account.

11. Vacation Credits or Days

A great way to show appreciation is by offering an extra day of PTO. You could also give people a personal vacation budget that lets employees travel in a more affordable way.

12. Office Upgrades

Whether your employees are remote or in the office, they’re sure to appreciate upgraded office equipment. Ergonomic keyboards, mice, or chairs are great. For those who don’t work in front of a computer, find what equipment they need to make their work better and give it to them.

We also have a gifting guide and a post on holiday gift ideas to help you find the right item for each person at your company. Hopefully these posts will ignite some ideas for you to truly give meaningful, personalized gifts to your people.

Give the Gift of Appreciation

If you only remember one thing from this blog, remember that when it comes to employee appreciation gifts, it’s the thought that counts. It may seem difficult to provide thoughtful gifts to each and every employee at your company, but with modern digital tools, such as an employee recognition platform, you can give the gift of appreciation more easily than ever before.

Plus, remember that gifts are a year-round part of your compensation and culture. While the holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah, or Chinese New Year, are perfect for gifting, you can (and should!) offer appreciation gifts at any time. Think about Employee Appreciation Day, Valentines Day, World Health Day, or Earth Day. The possibilities for gifting are endless.

The important part is remembering that gifts boost happiness, productivity, and motivation, and they can help cut down on turnover. That sounds like a pretty good tradeoff to us.