Let’s Talk: Gifts for staff and clients – is it worth it?

Image credit: Jess Bailey

As a leader, should you give staff members gifts? And as a business person, how about clients and colleagues? Is there value in giving a little something to show someone they mean something to you and your organisation?

Let’s Talk

Monica Watt, Chief Human Resources Officer, ELMO Software

“Gifts and events are particularly important in the current economic environment with the ELMO Employee Sentiment Report revealing a third (34%) of Australians have felt burnout these past three months. Anything employers can do to help employees feel valued and respected will help mitigate employee churn.

“With a hybrid model of work becoming common in many workplaces there is incredible value in holding staff events. These are moments when people across teams and divisions can bond together in person. At ELMO, we host quarterly milestone events where we can all get together to celebrate the quarter that was and the quarter that is to come. It’s a terrific way to build on our sense of community and ensure we are all aligned on what we need to achieve in the months to come.

“Gifts also serve a purpose to remind staff that the company is thinking about them and what is going on in their life outside of hours. Weddings, newborns and completion of studies are big moments in a person’s life and it’s important that they feel their employer cares about them as a ‘whole employee’, not just the worker they see from ‘nine to five’.”

Costa Vasili, Member Engagement Chair, Entrepreneurs’ Organization Melbourne, CEO and Founder, Ethnolink

“As a company composed of multi-cultural team members, we try to personalise the presents we give to our staff based on what is going on in their lives. That way, it makes our gifts more relevant to them and makes them feel valued as individuals.

“For example, one of our employees from France missed her family back home, so we gave her a French patisserie as a gift for her birthday. These may be simple presents, but we want them to regard Ethnolink as their second family by showing that we care for them.

“Initiatives like this help in the retention of good staff members, which is important in any business organisation. It strengthens management and staff relations, builds the members’ loyalty to the company, and motivates them to perform better.”

James Murray, Mentorship Chair and Key Executive Chair, Incoming Finance Chair, Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Melbourne, Founder and Managing Director, Work Healthy Australia, Director Josh’s Rainbow Eggs

“We send birthday and Christmas gifts signed by our team to our corporate clients, as a way of showing that we value them and of maintaining our good relationships with them by recognising them personally. 

“Internally, we have a 15-year tenure plan for our staff to recognise their efforts and celebrate them as a part of our Work Healthy Australia family. We give them birthday, Christmas and tenure gifts, which get bigger and bigger each year. Every five years, we hallmark their tenure with a special gift. On the 5th year, they get to have a one-on-one dinner with me as their MD; on the 10th year, we send them and their partner away for a weekend; and on the 15th year, we send them off for five days.

“Over the years, I’ve found that tenure matters to our staff and they value these exclusive experiences. By appreciating them, we make sure that they have good reason to stay in our company.”

Kris Grant, CEO, ASPL Group

“Social events are incredibly valuable for increasing employee engagement within an organisation, but unfortunately COVID-19 has made them difficult to maintain. If you can, try to schedule them regularly, and keep them exciting by finding different things to do. Drinks are fun, but don’t need to be your only option.

“I love giving my staff and clients flowers by way of appreciation, especially when they’re least expecting it. Regardless of what the gift actually is, staff and clients will always feel good if they’re acknowledged for being a great person to work with.”


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By Guillermo Troncoso

Guillermo is the Editor of Dynamic Business and Manager of film & television entertainment site ScreenRealm.com. Follow him on Twitter.