Employee gifts

There are a number of ways employers can demonstrate their appreciation for employees, and gifts are a great choice. Compared to some other strategies, gifts can be affordable, are easy to budget for, and are nearly always well-received by the recipient. Gifts can be spontaneous or planned around a specific occasion, such as a work anniversary or holiday. With Christmas and the new year fast approaching, now is a great time to consider these affordable gift options for employee appreciation!

Gift Ideas for Employees

1. Digital subscription

Most of us pay for multiple digital subscriptions. Your employees might appreciate the gift of six months to one year of paid-for subscription to something they’re interested in. Try to customize this gift to your employees’ interests and personal priorities. Many people already pay for a TV streaming service such as Netflix, so how about a subscription to a music streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music? Other affordable options include digital magazine or news subscriptions.

2. Spa certificates

Who doesn’t love getting pampered? A spa certificate can be a great way to encourage self-care and treat employees to a little bit of luxury. If a massage certificate sounds like an expensive choice, consider a facial or a mani/pedi as lower-cost options.

3. A nice meal

Treat your employees to a nice meal as a reward for performance or as a holiday gift. This is a great, flexible option that can be customized by your budget and your employees’ needs. You could arrange for a catered group lunch for everyone in the office, send snack boxes to employees who always work remotely, or purchase restaurant gift cards for employees to use in their free time. Flexible options are best since dietary needs and preferences vary widely.

4. A plant

Cut flowers are a lovely gift, but they come with some drawbacks. They are expensive, the recipient can only enjoy them for a week or two at most, and some people have pollen allergies that make enjoying flower arrangements a bit challenging. Instead, we recommend gifting your employee a potted plant. With proper care, an indoor plant can live for years, making this gift one of the longest-lasting choices. As an added perk, keeping plants in one’s office space also boosts productivity, mood, and attention span. And unlike blooming flowers which commonly trigger allergies, most people can tolerate common indoor houseplants.

5. Technology upgrades

If you have a bit more to spend, consider gifting your employees upgrades to their technology. This could mean anything from upgrading their cell phone to a more recent model, to a smart watch or a pair of nice headphones. We all interact with our devices for hours each day, and having an updated model can make daily life easier and more enjoyable.

6. Gift cards

Gift cards are a fantastic gift option for employees because they allow employees to pick out a gift for themselves. Even if managers know their employees well, it’s still difficult to know exactly what type of gift will be well-received and what would be extraneous and unwelcome. Gift cards dispense with most of this unpredictability. Of course, in choosing a gift card for an employee, you do have to know which store, website, or restaurant they’d appreciate a certificate for. If you’re unsure, go with something flexible like a big-box store such as Target or Walmart. Most people shop online with websites like Amazon, too. And if you truly have no idea, there’s always a Visa gift card, which an employee can use anywhere that accepts credit card payments.

7. Classes and experiences

Experiences are among the most gratifying kinds of gifts we can receive. Consider giving employees vouchers for classes or experiences they’re interested in. For example, a cooking class, a woodworking seminar, or a one-on-one tour through a museum they love. You’ll want to stay away from anything overtly work-related, however,—the last thing you want is to “gift” your employee more work. For flexible and low-cost options, check out online courses from a service such as Skillshare.

8. Books

Do your employees enjoy reading? Books are a wonderful gift option, whether you give them a specific book, a bookstore giftcard, or an eReader. Just be sure that whatever book you gift your employees it’s one that they’ll truly enjoy. In the wrong situation, the gift of a book can feel like informal homework.

9. Personalized gear

Personalized clothing or accessories can be a fun and thoughtful gift because they show your appreciation for the employee as an individual. An employee who is interested in beard care, for example, may appreciate a customized shaving kit. This sense of individual respect and deep gratitude is one of the greatest benefits workplace gift-giving has to offer. If you’re not sure what your employees’ personal interests are outside of work, it may be best to just steer clear from giving them a personalized gift and go with something with more mass appeal instead. 

10. Desk accessories

Desk accessories are a practical gift that employees can use in the office or at home. Since we spend so much of our time at work, small additions to our workspace can make a big difference in our quality of life. Something as simple and low-cost as a desktop mug warmer can make someone’s day and add a little luxury to their work environment. Of course, if you have more to spend, there are plenty of options for every price point in this category. 

A note about gifts and accessibility

Some people may prefer to keep their personal and professional lives separate, which can make workplace gift-giving a challenge. Gifts of snacks or meals can be awkward for people with food allergies or dietary needs related to their religious practices. A Deaf employee won’t have any use for an Audible or Spotify subscription. Gifts like these put their recipients in an impossible position of feeling obligated to show gratitude for gifts that they simply can’t use. The last thing you want is for your gift to show your employee that you don’t understand them or their needs.

There is no one simple solution to this issue, but the best way to avoid awkwardness around workplace gifts is to either let an employee choose their own gift, or ensure that the manager who chooses it for them is someone who knows the person well. 

Our rewards and recognition platform

Workplace gift giving is much more streamlined and impactful with Fond’s rewards and recognition platform. Admins can easily distribute, track, and manage employee gifts throughout the year all within a single platform. Along with a catalog of millions of redemption options, our platform also supports custom gifts like the ones mentioned above. If there’s a gift you think your employees will appreciate—whether it’s an experience, personalized gift, or a subscription— we can add it to your redemption catalog as a custom gift at no additional cost. 

As the year is winding down, employers have a huge opportunity to show appreciation to their workforce. Even on a smaller budget, companies can still be creative and make a big impact in their employee appreciation gifts. To learn more about how our employee recognition program can help you show meaningful employee appreciation this year, contact us today to receive a free demo.