It’s usually HR’s job to come up with the annual employee gift. Most companies are lame and will do the exact same thing every year. If they don’t give a turkey on Thanksgiving, they’ll definitely give out turkeys at Christmas. If they did give a turkey at Thanksgiving, you’ll likely get a ham or a fruit cake for Christmas.
Can I just say Christmas, instead of the “holiday season” or list all the possible options? My family is Jewish, but we get it, almost no company will ever recognize Chanukah, and if they do, it’s usually an insulting, “Oh, isn’t that the Jewish Christmas?!” Ugh. Most of the American workforce follows some Christian-based religion that celebrates Christmas, so it’s just easier to play along with the majority.
At some point, usually right around the pagan holiday of Halloween, someone in HR will raise the question to leadership, “Hey, what are we doing this year for Christmas for the employees?” What they really are asking is, “How much money are we spending per employee for some gift that looks more expensive than what it really is?” Depending on the organization, it’s a wide range!
Here are the worst holiday gift ideas to give your employees:
- Company logo portfolio – you know those fake leather bound binders with a legal pad inside. Twenty years ago those were so hot! Now, they’re sad. If you give this out as a gift you should be shot. “Oh, great, thanks, a pad of paper. I can’t wait to take a picture of this and post it on my Snap making fun of the lame company I work for!”
- Company logo bag – Any bag really. Duffle. Messenger. Backpack. The only time this isn’t lame is when it’s a really nice bag. Meaning the bag, minus your stupid logo, better cost at least $100 per bag. Your $12 limit per employee just makes any bag you choose, sad. Oh, it’s a Herschel bag, okay, you’re good, send me one to!
- Any company logo item your C team wouldn’t buy for themselves – Let’s face it no one wants a crappy polo shirt, or cheap hoodie, or water bottle made in China. If your leadership team wouldn’t buy this on their own and use it, don’t buy it for your employees. If your CEO is a cheap SOB, ignore what I said above and just skip logo items altogether!
- Any mass pre-packaged food items – You know what really sucks? Getting a gift basket of elf-sized, trial-sized food items made to look gourmet that were probably made 17 months ago.
- A charitable gift in “my” name – I love being charitable. I hate when some tries to be charitable on my behalf. You don’t know what I support! I might hate sick puppies and I don’t want money going to them. That’s not your call. My favorite charity is my kid’s college fund! Are you giving me money for that?
Employee gift-giving, especially the bigger your organization is, is a tough game. You don’t want to be cheap, but if you have 10,000 employees, that one endeavor becomes super expensive! The best thing to do is just stop it all together!
You go through one negative year of people complaining they didn’t get their lead-based painted candy corporate logo candy dish, then the next year no one remembers. Instead, let your hiring managers throw potluck lunches and have some fun. People will remember those, have more fun, and they might actually interact with each other!