That old adage that says when it comes to gifting, it’s the thought that counts holds up in research. And as it turns out, it holds particularly true in the workplace. It’s been proven that positive recognition of employees is a strong morale booster that can strengthen the bottom line.
But, gift giving experience shows that there’s more to it than that. Following Part I of our guide to the Best Workplace Gifts, exploring when to give, it’s important to now consider how you decide what to give, To wrap your head around that question, consider that the psychology of gift giving suggests that “the nature of the gift, not its monetary value, determines the prevalence of reciprocal reactions,” according to researchers at the University of Zurich’s Institute for Empirical Research in Economics who in 2008 published a paper on “The Currency of Reciprocity – Gift-Exchange in the Workplace.”
In field studies, researchers found out that employees offered a gift performed better than if offered higher wages.
“…An increase in fixed wages only has a negligible impact on workers’ productivity. However, a gift in-kind of equivalent monetary value has an economically and statistically significant effect on productivity. Workers provide 30 percent more output on average. Moreover, this effect remains large and significant over the course of the entire working period…. Our main result remains largely unchanged if the price of the gift is communicated to the workers.”
Gifts are personal expressions and should be treated that way. But this suggests that small tokens can be more meaningful than big bonuses. Follow these simple guidelines to best determine what to give:
- Consider any company policy or rewards program details first when looking at specific employee gifts. (If you don’t have a reward policy, it could be a good time to develop one.)
- Your mission and culture can give strong clues to good gift fits. Family-friendly firms, for example, will reap great benefits form gifts that will be meaningful to entire families, rather than an individual tchotchke.
- There’s nothing wrong with promoting your company with gifts, such as corporate logo goods, but stay away from anything that says “gag” gift. That sends the wrong message.
- Fun is good. Enjoy the process and make the gift choosing and giving fun for managers and employees to create a positive, strengthening atmosphere.
There’s no need to wrack your brain about what to give. It is important to have a rewards program that emphasizes the mission and culture of your organization. Revisit it, evaluate it and tweak it when necessary.
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