Should You Give Holiday Gifts to Employees?

It’s that time of year again! Hard to believe, but it will be 2019 in the blink of an eye. But before the New Year arrives, you need to decide if should give your employees holiday gifts, and if you decide to go down that road, what type of gift is appropriate?

To Give or Not to Give, That is the Question

There is no law that states an employer has to give gifts to employees at the holiday. In fact, it is generally not necessary nor is it something employees expect. (However, once you start, holiday gifts become the norm and giving up would be a no-no, unless an explanation is offered.)

The choice is truly yours as the employer whether to gift or not. Before making the decision, consider these important tips.

  1. Holiday gifts should not be tied to performance – that would be classified as an earned reward rather than a gift.
  2. Make sure the gift aligns with your company culture.
  3. Avoid gifts that can be seen as inappropriate, politically incorrect or overly personal.
  4. Holiday gifts should be uniform in value across job positions.
  5. Consider the tax implication. Gifts that meet the IRS’s de minimis fringe benefit criteria do not require any reporting. For more on this, please visit the IRS guide.

It’s All in the Holiday Gifts

You’ve decided to put your employees on the “Nice” list. Now what?

Take into account the demographics of your employees. If your staff consists mainly of millennials, the gifts you choose might differ than if your employees are mostly Baby Boomers. Be sure to stick to your company’s culture, mission and values.

Here are some safe ideas:

  1. Office décor. A nice coffee mug, an ergonomic seat cushion or arm rest, a cell phone stand, a hard-bound journal notebook, a custom bobblehead or even a picture frame.
  2. Tech gadgets. Noise-canceling headphones, phone chargers, smart watches or other wearable tech are highly popular items among all demographics.
  3. Company-branded clothing is a great holiday gift. Consider a jacket, cardigan or three-quarter zip sweater to keep employees warm in the colder months. (It will also come in handy in the hot months when the AC is cranked up too!)
  4. Food or beverages. Whether this takes place as a company party or in the form of gift cards, everyone needs to eat and drink. It is safe and effective.
  5. A simple note of appreciation. Even if you don’t have gifts in your budget, you can still let employees know you appreciate their efforts. Handwritten notes are the way to go with this type of gift.
  6. Time off. This is a great gift especially as the year ends. If you can spare an extra day or half-day out of the office, employees will always appreciate the paid time off.

Prepare for a Happy Holiday Season

If you stick to these suggestions, you’ll have a safe gift-giving season. Remember, a holiday gift is just that, a gift. It’s an extra benefit and employees should appreciate the thought.

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