Companies try to show employees they’re appreciated around the end of the year with holiday parties and gifts, and while it’s the thought that counts, giving staff a present they find both useful and meaningful can go quite a long way when it comes to engagement, loyalty and company culture. And ultimately, the gifts a company gives (or doesn’t) can say a lot about the company itself to its workforce.
The best gift Nicole Velez ever got was a Yeti cooler from a previous employer. “It’s been over five years since they gave it to me and it is still in such great condition,” Velez, who is currently a senior account executive at 5wPR, said. “It’s also so expensive and not something I would buy for myself but love to have for the beach or tailgates.”
Over 75% of U.S. workers are actually expecting a gift from their employer this holiday season, and say it makes them feel truly valued, a survey from Snappy, a gifting platform, including over 1,500 respondents taken this September found.
So much so that over a third of workers said not receiving a gift from their employer would push them to look for new job opportunities, that survey found. It comes amid financial challenges and layoff concerns, but also as job hopping has eased and more people plan to stay in their current roles — begrudgingly or not.
High-value gifts can have a major impact on employees, making them feel valued, optimistic, and feel a greater sense of belonging in their organizations, said Eric Hamlin, head of swag at Snappy. Patagonia or North Face vests or jackets with a company’s logo branded are one common example typical in the tech and finance industry. Wearing company-branded clothes also signifies a strong connection to one’s employer.
“I believe in what I’m doing, I believe in the services that we provide for our customers, and that translates directly into whether or not I’m going to wear a piece of branded merchandise with the company logo,” Hamlin said. “I think typically you find if you see people out there wearing branded merchandise, it’s a direct correlation to how strongly they feel or how strongly connected they are to their employer,” he said.
About 20% of workers would actually accept one job over another based on potential company-branded merch they’d get, according to a survey from EverythingBranded, another gifting platform, taken this October among over 1,500 U.S. respondents.
“People are making decisions based on what they perceive they’re going to get as a welcome pack when they start,” said Rob Mobsby, digital director at Everything Branded. “It’s not all about the money, right? Sometimes it’s about what am I doing? Am I joining a great community within my workplace?”
But many companies of course can’t afford North Face jackets for all their employees. Workers still want company-branded clothing items though. It was cited most often and by 60% of workers as gifts they want most from employers in EverythingBranded’s survey. “That opens up your world to a variety of quality and cost,” Mobsby said. Far fewer said they wanted electronics or accessories as gifts from their companies.
“Ultimately, for any business, it comes down to the numbers. But I think it’s being able to find that balance between a good quality product, or certainly a perceived good quality product, versus the right price,” Mobsby said.
“You could buy a North Face or you could buy something that’s about a tenth of the price, but it won’t give that employee that perceived value of themselves.“ When you’ve got a really nice hoodie or whatever that might be and it’s sort of perceived as good quality, that gives you a stronger warmer feeling,” he said.
Beyond the holidays, one way to make gifts more meaningful is to tie them to important workplace occasions like milestones or shared events. Giving staff a hoodie branded with the company logo and name of a completed project is one example.
“Then it’s that strong connection piece, but it’s also almost like a memory. It’s just a great way to continue to engage the people that built that thing or were part of some moment in the company’s history,” Hamlin said.