It’s no secret: unique gifts and signs of appreciation make employees feel valued, maybe even more than raises or positive performance reviews. Experienced HR professionals and wise managers have recognized the impact of meaningful gifts and recognition for years, and companies and industries are catching on to the power personal, high-quality gifts have to motivate, encourage, and retain employees.
The most common form of employee recognition gift is also the most obvious: employee service awards. And traditional employee service awards are still a great call, especially when they come in the form of genuinely useful gifts (thus the sharp rise in popularity for gifting technology items).
However, traditional service awards tend to only reward a small group of employees – your highest-performing, longest-serving rock stars. So, how do you find the right unique appreciation gifts (and gifting opportunities) for everyone else?
Here are three practical ideas for giving better employee appreciation gifts and for finding more opportunities to let everyone on your team know how much you care about them.
1. Give gift bundles: they’re practical, generous, and eliminate the guess work from gifting
Over years of supporting HR teams, managers, and recruiters, we’ve found that gift bundles are one of the most can’t-miss opportunities for employee gifts.
A bundle of multiple items allows you to maximize the usefulness and practical impact of your gift. It also demonstrates that you REALLY care about your employees: gift bundles don’t have to break the bank, but the feeling of receiving multiple items, thoughtfully packaged together, will resonate with your employees and help them see the gift as especially generous.
Gift bundles also have another hidden benefit: they make shopping for gifts easy! Rather than trying to narrow down all your options and decide between multiple appealing gifts, you can choose a gift bundle and give more than one item.
2. Don’t wait for an anniversary – give gifts at onboarding!
Everyone remembers their first days or weeks at a new job…and sometimes those memories can be stressful or unpleasant. Helping employees start off on the right foot and feel immediately welcomed into your culture is key to retention. Onboarding gifts also support an efficient, positive onboarding process. That’s why employee welcome gifts are one of our favorite (and most popular!) forms of employee appreciation gift.
Employee welcome gifts would pair well with a thoughtful card, a new plant or decoration for a new employee’s desk, or a “Welcome!” banner signed by your entire team. Also, welcome and onboarding gifts aren’t just for brand new employees. They’re a wonderful way to greet an employee coming back from medical leave, or an employee transitioning to a new role or new team. Whatever the context, these gifts help an employee truly feel welcomed (or welcomed back) in those crucial early days with your company.
3. Get creative about honoring different forms and styles of service
Most of the time, when employers and managers think about service awards or service recognition gifts, it’s only in terms of rewarding lengthy periods of service or recognizing anniversaries. These are certainly important moments for gifting and recognition, but service awards can be so much more than that.
Employees serve one another and your organization in so many ways, including some that are easy to overlook. What about the junior employee who helps their senior manager learn a new technology? How about the quiet leader who helps keep meetings moving along without ever formally taking charge? Think of the dedicated employees who put in extra hours to get a project across the finish line. Or the employee who always has a kind word, an easy smile, or an encouraging note. These – and so many more – forms of crucial service can easily be overlooked, but they don’t have to.
By paying attention to how your employees serve and thoughtfully selecting practical, high quality gifts to honor them, you can create a culture where everyone’s contributions are valued and many different forms of good work are celebrated.