Giving Corporate Gifts with Meaning and Impact

With the end of the year and the holidays right around the corner, now is the time to start planning how to thank your employees, clients and customers.

Although it takes time out of your already busy schedules to plan and send these gifts, studies show that, “Vendors who gave were twice as likely to increase their chances of being contacted by recipients as those that didn’t have a gift program.” Everyone appreciates the recognition and consideration.

If you are wondering where to start, here are some things to consider if you want to make that holiday gift both thoughtful and impactful.

  1. Be clear about the purpose. Although it’s tempting to attach a concrete outcome to the gift, keep in mind this is a relationship-building opportunity, not an incentive.
  2. Be familiar with the recipient’s policies around gifts. Most organizations have placed a monetary limit on the size of gifts employees may receive internally or from vendors and business partners. Make sure you follow your company and business partner’s guidelines while planning for holiday gift giving.

Let's Look at Options.

Finding just the right gift is important. With so many options available, it can be a bit overwhelming to sort through them. Here are some thoughts to get you started:

  • Gift cards continue to top the list of recipient preferences. They are easy to give because they take the guesswork out of the process. They are also easy to receive as they provide a world of choice both online and in-store. Send the card digitally which is fast and convenient, or opt to give a physical card and consider gift wrap and a personal note which adds a nice touch.
  • Vouchers for iTunes, MP3s, ebooks, or other digital media. If you can uncover your recipient’s media habits, a voucher or gift card that lets them add to their digital library is a gift they’ll enjoy for years.
  • Promotional products have longevity. Promotional products are a great choice when you want to give a gift that lasts beyond the holidays. According to the Promotional Products Association International(PPAI), 73 percent of individuals who receive promotional products use that product at least once a week. When carefully selected, those products keep your organization in mind throughout the year. Since it is a holiday gift, be mindful of any branding you place on a gift, as it’s not the time for blatant self-promotion.
  • Charity donation. If you know your recipient well enough and they’ve mentioned a preferred charity, consider a gift in their name. Alternatively, simply offer the option of making a donation to the charity of their choice. We’ve seen that this particularly resonates with younger employees.
  • Delicacies. Consider delivery services such as Omaha Steaks, Lobster Gram dinner, or Harry and David food baskets delivered directly to their home. This option as well as gift cards to local grocery stores allows employees to spread holiday cheer to friends and family.
  • Rotating use of the “best” spot in the company parking lot. While difficult to gift wrap, the prime parking spot is much-appreciated by employees, especially after a long commute in bad weather.
  • Holiday lunch. Depending on the size of your organization, this can be off-site or catered in. If your holiday lunch takes place off site, think about holding it in the early afternoon and then giving employees the rest of the day off. A few more personal hours during this busy season is something everyone appreciates. If you hold a catered, in-office event, pump up the holiday spirit with decorations and grab bag gifts.
  • In-person distribution. If possible, deliver your gift in person, especially when it comes to long-term customers. Yes, this takes extra time, but ends up as time well-spent and adds a personal demonstration of your appreciation.

With a little time and effort holiday gifts go a long way. Moreover, you may find that they are as much fun to give as they are to receive. So, put on your Santa suit (or maybe just a Santa cap) and let the holiday cheer begin.

"The Big Four" Gift Types.

In addition to the above suggestions, a quick Google search can uncover uncountable ideas. However, it can get overwhelming fast. So let's narrow it down to the four most common gift types and dive into their relative strengths and weaknesses.

Gift Cards Are the Perfect Way to Thank Employees and Partners

Gift cards remain one of the best ways to thank your employee sand partners alike for their hard work and loyalty to your business. Using gift cards allows people the opportunity to buy something for themselves or a loved one that they otherwise would not have.There is no better time than the holidays to use these as gifts, at a time when people tend to spend more money and extra funds run low.

Finding out what gift cards interest your recipients is a key element of effective giving. Preferences of one person, are often different for another person. It’s a great time of year to gather some feedback and see what’s popular.

Additionally, there is an ongoing debate in the incentive industry around whether gift cards or cash rewards are more effective. When you look beyond the obvious reasons and begin to understand some of the psychological impacts, you will learn that gift cards offer much more than cash rewards ever could. For example, gift cards provide trophy value. When a person uses a gift card, they remember where it came from, how they earned it, and/or why they received it, whereas cash is not distinguishable. For this reason gift cards make an excellent holiday gift, as well as a great addition to your rewards and recognition program.

Even Adults Love Presents.

Despite the popularity of gift cards and prepaid cards, many employees still love gifts of merchandise. Recipients tend to like this option because these gifts are typically more durable and are used over time, providing a halo effect. When done right, a merchandise gift will demonstrate to employees how well you know them and provide an ongoing acknowledgement of your appreciation for their contribution.

With a little effort, holiday gifts can be a personal way to say “thank you” to your employees for their many contributions over the year. Moreover, I think you’ll find that they are as much fun to give as to receive. So, put on your Santa suit (or maybe just a Santa cap) and let the holiday cheer begin.

Cash Is King... Unless It's a Gift.

Who doesn't love seeing their bank accounts go up a bit around the holidays? And there's no competing with the ease of giving a little extra money as a holiday bonus. It's nice to get, but the reason it was received disappears immediately.

With other forms of gifting, however, the giver is remembered and the good vibes remain associated. When it comes to the effectiveness of a gift, and what that means for you and your brand, cash is the lowest performer.

Are you in a time crunch? Cash may be your only option.

Can you give even a small amount of your attention to choosing a great gift this year? Then we'd strongly recommend almost any of the other options mentioned in this guide.

Prepaid Cards Are Quick, Easy, Trackable, and Reportable

If you’re looking for a fast and simple gift option – one that administrators and recipients both love – prepaid debit cards could be your answer. These cards can be issued in any amount, and they can be used at any time during the holiday.

For example, say that you’re aware of the generous nature of a particular employee. A pre-paid debit card would enable that employee to share the holiday cheer with others –maybe by taking their family to a restaurant to celebrate, or by using the card to purchase a special gift that might otherwise not be in their budget.

An Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) study found that respondents even preferred prepaid debit card rewards to cash. With the new generation of disbursement platforms now available, you can tap into that preference and maximize the impact of your rewards program.

But it bears stressing that prepaid debit cards still play second fiddle to gift cards or even merchandise. If you have a chance to leverage one of those gift types, it is well worth your efforts.

When in Doubt, Hire a Pro.

In the business world, a meaningful connection is hard to come by, and impossible to fake. We help you build a bridge between the cold, hard facts of bottom lines and the authentic connections of people who feel valued.

The true value of rewards, recognition, and even holiday gift giving, is all about connecting to people. As a successful, family-run company since 1978, we understand the power of human connection and building long-lasting relationships.

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