The holiday season brings out the giving spirit in many people. That spirit often spills into the office. Some companies host Secret Santa or other holiday gift exchanges. Others may keep it informal and allow co-workers to exchange gifts only if they choose.
Business owners and managers may ask themselves, however, if it's a good idea to promote giving holiday gifts between employees in the office. It’s not always an easy decision. Here’s a look at some pros and cons:
It promotes employee friendships and bonding. Office gift exchanges offer a chance for employees to interact on a more personal level and learn more about each other’s personalities and tastes.
It lightens the mood around the hectic holiday season. Many people could use a little downtime at the office, whether a holiday party or a gift exchange.
Some workers may not have the financial means to buy holiday gifts for their co-workers.
Office gift exchanges can be awkward for some people. “You hardly know some of your co-workers. (And you don’t necessarily like some of the ones you do know.),” writes Kelly Gurnett at Brazen Careerist. “What in the world are you supposed to buy these people?”
Whether to promote — or even allow — holiday gift giving is truly an office-by-office decision. If you do decide to encourage gifting, here are some tips for making it work:
1. Let everyone participate
Someone may feel left out if they don’t receive any holiday gifts. If you do allow gifting in the office, consider making it official so everyone can partake in the fun.
However, it’s a good idea to give everyone the option to opt out, writes Alison Green on the U.S. News and World Report. “Most people feel awkward declining to participate, so asking people to sign up if they're interested is more considerate than making someone announce that they don't want to take part,” Green says.
2. Leave the boss out of it
Make sure that gift-giving is only expected between colleagues so an employee doesn’t feel obligated to buy a gift for his or her boss, Green adds. “Many people resent being expected to give a gift to someone who presumably makes significantly more money than they do.”
If a manager or owner wants to buy holiday gifts for his or her employees, however, that’s fine.
3. Set a low dollar limit
Don’t push employees to spend too much on co-worker gifts. Set a low price limit so everyone’s gifts are roughly equal in value.
“Not only will it make narrowing down gift ideas easier, but it will also ensure that everyone gets to receive a gift that’s on the same level as everyone else’s,” writes Tina Vasquez on Lifescript.
4. Make it fun
Remember that holiday gifting is a great opportunity to bring together your employees and help them get to know each other, so make it a fun experience. Some offices come up with gift-giving themes — like tacky or work-related gifts.
Before the holiday season hits high gear, consider your company’s gift exchange guidelines.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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