With Christmas just around the corner, it seems a good time to discuss gifting within your company.
As a business owner, it might feel that the subject of gifting is outside of your remit. However, there’s no doubt that gifting makes a huge contribution to office politics – and any savvy business owner is well aware of how much office politics can influence your business. For the most part, employees giving gifts to one another is harmless, especially on birthdays when the focus is all on one person.
Christmas, and other general gifts-for-all holidays, are more troubling. The last thing you want is that something so ostensibly nice — giving someone a gift they will treasure – becomes problematic. You’d be surprised just how ‘wrong’ gifting can be in an office environment. The sentiment is always nice, but the fallout from Secret Santa… less so.
In fact, the fallout can be so problematic that let’s explore the idea of outright banning gifting from your business. If you think this will make you a killjoy, and it’s something you wouldn’t dream of doing, then read on to discover why this simple solution could be the best option for your business…
Five Reasons To Ban Gifting In Your Office
#1 – Gifting Alienates People Who Aren’t Friends With Their Colleagues
Not everyone in the office wants to be friends with colleagues. Some of your staff will just want to arrive to work, do their job, and then go home; their social life exists outside of working hours. If there is a gifting culture, there’s a good chance these people will feel forced to participate, especially if a colleague gives them a gift.
Even worse, what if an employee does want to be friends with their colleagues, but they’re too new or too quiet to have established those friendships? They will be left out, inevitably feeling miserable, wishing they were part of something that they are excluded from.
Having employees who resent having to give gifts, or for whom gift-giving makes them feel lonely, is obviously not a good thing. Protect these employees and ban the entire practice.
#2 – Gifting Places A Financial Burden On Those Who Might Not Be Able To Afford It
The Christmas gift frenzy has a tendency to bring out the worst in all of us. If one of your employees is struggling for cash, the dawning realisation that they are expected to give gifts to their colleagues is going to be a tough one to swallow. Very rarely will someone feel they can excuse themselves from giving gifts due to financial constraints; it’s too embarrassing, and few people want to broadcast their financial woes to everyone.
Of course, if someone who is struggling receives a gift, they are going to feel compelled to reciprocate. There’s no guarantee that them directly asking people not to buy for them will even work; this is often ignored by others, much to the dismay of the person in question. The only way of preventing this is to outright ban gifting.
#3 – Gifting Can Sow The Seeds Of Division Between Colleagues
Why did John give Mark a nicer gift than the one he gave to Simon? Why has Holly given Maria a gift, but not yet given one to Amelia?
If you want to avoid office gossip like the above — and you really do want to avoid office gossip like the above — then an outright ban on gifting is your only choice.
#4 – Gifting Is A Distraction From The Working Day
While it’s good to have a positive environment for your employees, at the end of the day, they’re in their jobs to help push your business forward. If you let distractions like gifts float around the office, then you can lose an awful lot of time to these endeavours.
#5 – Gifting May Create Awkward Situations
Here a few potential situations that could crop up due to gifting in the workplace:
- Someone doesn’t know if their Muslim colleague will celebrate Christmas, so they are not sure whether to buy something or not. While we all know by now that Muslims are not anti-Christmas, nor are any other religious groups, the “do they celebrate Christmas?” question can be incredibly awkward.
- Many workplaces have former couples among their staff. Why fan the flames of the breakup by introducing gifting into the mix?
- The same goes for former friends; if two colleagues have had an argument, and then don’t gift to one another, it’s another source of gossip and could potentially upset the people involved.
These situations are rough and awkward enough in and of themselves, but they’re also huge distractions from the working day– which, again, is what everyone is there for in the first place!
What You Should Do Instead
#1 – Give Everyone The Same Gift From The Company
If you’re worried a ban on gifting is going to make you seem like a miserable, Scrooge-like boss, then surprise your staff with gifts from the company. You don’t have to spend a fortune; everyone can receive a cheap wicker basket, wrapped in customized business ribbons from The Lanyards Factory, and containing Christmas-appropriate sweet treats. That way, everyone gets the same item, there’s no need to reciprocate, and there’s plenty of festivity in the office.
#2 – Allow Stealthy Gifting Between Friends
If employees are friends outside of working hours, then encourage them to gift to one another privately– just don’t mention it during office hours.
#3 – Run A Secret Santa With A Very Low Spending Limit
If you want to allow some gifting, then you can organise an office-wide Secret Santa. However, it’s imperative you keep the spend extremely low; $5 is more than sufficient, or you risk alienating those who are struggling financially. Make it clear that involvement isn’t mandatory, and that no other gifting will be allowed.
#4 – Run A Secret Santa Of Office Chores
Rather than physical gifts, you could encourage a Secret Santa of office chores– for example, employees “gift” doing someone else’s paperwork for a day. This is free and can be plenty of fun if done in the right spirit.
#5 – Throw A Great Office Christmas Party
No one is going to call the boss who threw a fantastic office party a killjoy, so this can be a great way of boosting morale while avoiding the tricky office politics gifting can create!
Ultimately, gifting can do more harm than good. Why not try some of the above ideas instead, so you can guarantee Christmas will be a time of goodwill and cheer for everyone this year?