12 December 2011

Inexpensive Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Employees

Most offices discourage personal fraternization outside the work environment, and for supervisors, this often applies to inter-office dealings, as well. After all, respect for authority is more important than friendship when you have to lay down the law and motivate people to do things they may not want to. The flip side, unfortunately, is that when the holidays roll around you may have no idea of what to get employees as a symbolic gesture of the season and a token of your appreciation for all the hard work they’ve done throughout the year. And if you’re running a small business, major cash bonuses may be out of the question. So here are just a few generic and inexpensive gifts that are sure to please just about every employee.

1. Company product. Your employees may handle your goods all day and know your product lineup like the back of their hands, but probably they don’t often get to sample the goods. So one great way to save money while giving your employees an appropriate gift is to offer them the latest off the assembly line. The bonus for you is that if your products are fantastic your employees may act as brand ambassadors of their own volition, touting the goods to friends and family as a trusted and knowledgeable source (rather than just because your company pays their bills).

2. Floating holiday. No employees is going to turn down paid time off, so consider offering each of your workers a couple of extra paid days off in the coming year that they can cash in whenever something comes up or they need a long weekend to make up for the overtime they put in during a particularly heavy production cycle. You may, however, want to specify that only a certain percentage of employees can use these floating days simultaneously.

3. Gift cards. Is there any better gift than a gift card? A nearby coffee shop, juice bar, or cafĂ© that many of your employees frequent (or that you’d like to trade some business with) is the ideal solution to your spending conundrum because you can set an amount per employee and make your purchase quickly and easily (no shopping around!).

4. DIY gift baskets. While you can certainly contract out to a business that specializes in gift baskets, you could opt to do it yourself for less if you’re handy with the crafts (and you have few employees). For the ladies you can’t go wrong with an assortment of bath goodies (bubbles, lotion, loofah, etc.), and men will no doubt enjoy a fresh supply of fancy shaving products (the starter and travel kits from The Art of Shaving start at about $25 and they’re surprisingly manly).

5. Baked goods. You just can’t go wrong with baked goods, whether you hit up a local bakery to purchase an assortment for the whole office (or individual boxes) or you make them in your own kitchen. Of course, the latter will save you a lot more money.

6. Picture frames. Absolutely everyone can use a photo frame and it’s an extremely office-appropriate gift simply because so many people like to display family photos at work. If you are willing to spend a little more, a digital photo frame is both thoughtful and timely.

Carol Montrose writes for Midwest HR Chicago Human Resources Outsourcing. Midwest HR offers innovative HR solutions to organizations that are focused on productivity, profitability, and growth

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