Maybe this is your first winter in a supervisory position. In addition to worrying about meeting year-end goals, you might have the added stress of figuring out what—if anything—to give your employees for the holidays.
Some people will tell you that you don’t need to buy your employees gifts (or that you shouldn’t), and while I do think that’s your prerogative, I’m a big fan of gift-giving, so here’s some guidance should you decide to go that route:
- Consider the precedent you’re setting. If you spend $50 per employee this year, but then scale back to $20 next year, someone on your staff will notice. If you buy gifts this year but don’t in the future, lots of people will notice. Don’t become so swept up in the holiday spirit that you go overboard. Set a reasonable budget and stick to it.
- Avoid showing favoritism. When you find something that’s just perfect for one of your employees, it’s tempting to buy unique gifts for each person. Don’t do it. It’s too difficult to match each gift in monetary value and thoughtfulness. Someone will be offended. One exception: If you have a personal assistant, it’s appropriate to give him or her a special gift.
- Most people like consumables. While not everyone will be thrilled with receiving another trinket or knickknack, it’s a safe bet that everyone will be happy with something that can be eaten, spent or otherwise used up. Examples: Give employees gift cards to a local movie theater, with a note encouraging them to spend an evening out with their loved ones. Or give them a gift bag with a gourmet treat or two.
- Charitable gifts are also usually safe. Both you and your employees will feel good if you make a donation in their names. Choose a nonprofit that serves your community or that speaks to you personally.
- Gifts don’t have to be tangible. Treat your team to a nice lunch out of the office. Pick up the tab and engage in real conversation about anything besides work.
- Keep it secular. I am all for people addressing me with their personal holiday greeting, be it “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Hanukah!” or anything else. However, when you’re the boss, you risk ostracizing some employees by celebrating a religious holiday at work. Stick with non-religious gift wrap, cards and gifts (think snowflake motifs rather than Santas). Note: I know a lot of people consider Christmas to be a secular holiday, but many people don’t. And whatever you do, please don’t refer to it as “Xmas.”
Check out these articles for even more advice on gift-giving at work.