Today, I want to draw attention to the importance of employee gifts and how gifts lift morale. First, what is morale? According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, morale is the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand. Why is morale important? High morale produces effectiveness, low morale produces a lack of efficiency.
How do gifts play a role?
Gifts lift morale by reminding employees and business associates that they matter. A person whose purpose is validated, will continue to pour their energy into a project or task. In fact, they may double their efforts because their work isn’t in vain. Gifting touches individuals in a personal and emotional place.
By giving employees gifts, you also build and cultivate relationships with them. By virtue of the manager/subordinate relationship, there are boundaries. This is NOT bad. It is important to have clear expectations and boundaries. The paramount thing to remember, is the balance of authority and compassion. Ensure you are respected, but also ensure that those under your authority feel valued.
When to gift
If I am completely honest, what matters is that you gift some token of appreciation to your employees. Some optimal gift occasions include:
After hire- Any time within the first 30 days of hire is acceptable. This is an overwhelming time for everyone. New employee paperwork, meeting the rest of the team, learning company protocol. No need to rush, but be mindful to keep it within the first 30 days. The interview is still fresh in your mind and the new employee’s mind, so this reinforces the rapport that was created. Remind the new worker that you are excited to have them on your team.
Work anniversary- Work anniversaries are a major thing to celebrate. While it is not prudent to celebrate every single anniversary, aim for 1st, 5th, 10th and increase the time as is appropriate or comfortable. In some industries, it isn’t common to have long time employees, so any chance to showcase the opposite of this should be welcomed. Thank that person for their loyalty and commitment, but also highlight that you, the employer was paying attention.
Birthday- I think this should do without saying, but just in case you were in doubt, please give a birthday gift. If the birthday falls on a day the individual won’t be present, aim for the day before that. As a general rule, it’s best to gift within 2 weeks before their birthday.
Holidays- Holidays are a hectic. Everyone is tying up loose ends, prepping for vacation. If you plan on hosting a holiday event, gift at that time. Preferable before the meal is served. You will have the best chance of gifting the most people. If it isn’t in the cards to host an event, aim to do gifting right after Thanksgiving. Most people don’t travel away for Thanksgiving or when they do, it’s just a weekend. Most winter vacations start the second week of December, so ideally, immediately after Thanksgiving to the 1st week of December is best.
How to present a gift
Always face to face, with the exception of the welcome gift. As much as possible, you want to reinforce the relationship. People need to see your face, hear your voice and make eye contact to solidify the positive interaction. This keeps it extremely personal, and you want that.
If you are ever in doubt about employee gifting, remember this: Employees are people first and all people want/need to feel appreciated.