As the holiday season rapidly approaches, people are preparing their gift-giving lists and checking them twice to make sure no aunt, cousin, friend or neighbor is deprived of some holiday cheer. However, sometimes people can become so wrapped up in the business and stress of the season that they can forget to thank those who have helped make it a successful year professionally: business colleagues and clients.
Gift-giving to business partners
Choosing holiday gifts for a corporate milieu can seem like a daunting task, with innumerable factors waiting to trip up givers and disqualify a present altogether. Gift-givers also face pressure to select a token that will impress, flatter or incline clients and employees to continue doing business with or working for the company. When beginning to brainstorm for possible ideas, there are a few factors to consider.
- What is the image and message a gift-giver wants to convey with his or her gift?
- How will it represent the company’s overall practices and corporate culture?
The first thing those in charge of gift selection will want to ensure is that the gift exudes professionalism. While it may be fun to wrap up and present cheeky gifts to family members, this sort of behavior belongs at home. Corporate gifts should be professional, classy and somewhat impersonal. Save the perfume, jewelry or any other items that could intimate a more personal relationship with an individual for outside the workplace.
To make sure presents are appropriate, individuals choosing corporate gifts should consider who they are buying the gifts for. What is the context of the professional relationship? Does the company have a long-standing relationship with this client? Or has the company only been doing business with this client for a few months? The length of time that a company has worked with a specific client can help gift-givers narrow down the field of gifts by determining the appropriate amount of money that should be spent.
According to Business Knowledge Source, the average corporate gift costs no more than $150, with most companies spending between $40 and $50. For newer clients or those with which companies do a lesser amount of business, sending a personal holiday greeting or card may suffice. However, for really important clients, businesses and firms often select customized products such as engraved pens and paperweights with a company’s logo on them.
Choosing the right gift
But how do companies choose among the plethora of objects that are available? What will be professional, yet unique and memorable? Corporate gifts may need to be impersonal to remain professional – however, that does not mean they should blend in with the crowd. “A company can say, ‘Thanks’ or ‘We’d love to have your business.’ But there can be more to it than that. Gift giving offers a rare nonsales opportunity to step forward and say, ‘This is what we do.’ Even better, it offers the rarer opportunity to say, ‘This is who we are,’” Inc. magazine writes.
Office-related items are generally considered safe items to give clients and can be easily jazzed up to make an impression. One gift that many companies choose to give to clients is customized pens. When picking out pens, companies still must be careful. Cheap pens can send the wrong message to clients and make them feel less than appreciated. A high-quality pen, however, is a useful gift that offers a wide array of choices to pick from, including fountain pens, ballpoint pens and even accompanying planners and memo books.
Gift-giving to employees
Additionally, corporate gifts can be used to strengthen the employee-employer relationship. It is an excellent opportunity retain top workers and show employees that they are valuable assets – and this requires that managers do not leave plans and shopping to the last minute. In addition to making a gift appear haphazardly chosen, companies that buy their workers gifts without proper planning will waste time and money. And like clients, an employee’s personal attributes must be carefully considered during the selection process.
A good way for employers to discover what a worker may need or find handy as a gift is to take a peek at their desk. What supplies does he or she always seem to be using or running out of? Or what kind of things are pictured on his or her desk? Listening to workers can help gift-givers as well. It may seem too simple and obvious, but many human resources executives conduct annual employee surveys for suggestions.
“If the supervisor is asking directly, it’s awkward. The employees may be afraid of offending the supervisor. But if they can respond in anonymity,” employees will be much more comfortable expressing what they would truly find useful, HR magazine writes.
There are many useful resources to help companies and business professionals choose the perfect gift. Many promotional companies offer catalogs and websites that provide employees with the peace of mind of knowing they will find something without having to worry about it being inappropriate. Companies should just remember to customize their gift selections, if this is an option. The gifts will serve as the perfect reminder that the company appreciates both its employees and clients.