To give or not to give, that is the question…

by 19 Oct 2009

Christmas is fast approaching – along with the question of what to give employees as a gift. There may be some confusion, but there are also protocols, writes Naomi Simson

A gift can either enhance a relationship or detract from it, and it is no different in business. The act of giving a personalised gift to an employee when it is attached to praise about a positive behaviour or achievement is a powerful way to make a lasting impression on that person – if you get it right.

RedBalloon’s latest survey asked 3000 employees about gifts, and we came across some interesting findings on the attitudes and be haviours around this aspect of business.

We found that 58 per cent of Australian employees are not ex pecting a card or any kind of gift from their managers at the end of the year. Employers now have the ultimate opportunity to reinforce their relationship with their teams by saying thank you and by surprising them with an unexpected gift that supports the basic need of feeling “part of something”.

What motivates one person in a team may not necessarily work for the next person – each of us has different drivers. Yet only one third (32 per cent) of employees across all gener ations are convinced their managers know what motivates them. So, we asked employ ees “What is the best reward or gift you ever received from your employer and why?” We found employees appreciated the following:

1) When the intent and appreciation is clear

2) Personalised rewards their manager or boss knows they like

3) Time with their partner and family

4) Getaways

5) Regular tokens of thanks go a long way; it’s the thought that counts

6) Choice: experiences they get to choose

7) Group rewards, outings and expeditions

8) Praise in front of superiors

9) Cash bonuses

10) The element of surprise; when it is un expected

Here are three steps to help you get it right:

1) The intention behind giving the gift: Is it given from love, kindness and generosity or is it given hoping for something in re turn, to buy a favour, or to coerce some one? A gift or a thank you needs to be given purely out of generosity and to show that the recipient is cared for, then it will enhance the relationship.

2) Attach the gift to acknowledgement of the individual’s contribution to the or ganisation: Thank them specifically for what they did for you, or the relationship you have with them. Consider what im pact that person has on you personally, as well as the organisation – for exam ple “Without your contribution, the proj ect would not have shipped on time”.

3) Consider the balance between effort or performance and the perceived value/fit of the gift: Make it relevant for the recipient, and, with your budget in mind, something that is of worth to them. Let them know why you selected that gift for them – for example “I know that you have always wanted to learn sushi mak ing, you might like to choose that for your self and your partner from this gift”.

Christmas is fast approaching – it is the time to make people feel special, to honour their contribution, to notice what they do. And to celebrate what was achieved.

Naomi Simson is Chief Experience Officer, RedBalloon.