Gifting to employees? Consider offering them your gratitude

As employers continue to search for ways to hang onto their talent amid the “Great Resignation,” new research suggests that seasonal gifts could be one tool to help enhance retention–although few organizations are maximizing the full potential of gift programs.

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A survey of more than 1,000 U.S. employees from Snappy, an employee gifting platform, found that gifts are an effective way organizations can make employees feel recognized and appreciated. In the study, 59% of those surveyed said they would be more likely to stay at their job if they received meaningful holiday gifts from their employer. Yet, 72% said they didn’t receive a holiday gift from employers last year, and 34% actually said they have never received one–illustrating that many employers are missing out on this major competitive advantage.

“This study shows that some organizations still don’t realize how important it is to show appreciation to their employees for all their hard work,” says Hani Goldstein, Snappy co-founder and CEO. “We see that as a missed opportunity that later on has a big cost. A small end-of-year gift to celebrate accomplishments can go a long way and has a huge impact on how employees feel at work and [about] their future contribution to the company.”

See also: During COVID, holiday gift-giving can be HR’s ‘time to shine’

Michele Bailey, author of The Currency of Gratitude: Turning Small Gestures into Powerful Business Results, says employers should consider making this holiday season one of the “Great Appreciation”– and to continue that trend throughout the year.

“As leaders reflect, those who haven’t made gratitude a core value of their organization should strongly consider it going forward into next year,” Bailey says. “The current context of workers leaving in droves basically demands it. And the holidays are the perfect time for leaders to set a new tone and show they are sincere about showing appreciation on a consistent basis.”

When employers make gratitude a habit and recognize the value of employees’ contributions, it encourages the latter to strive for greater results, she adds. With that, business will inevitably grow as team members champion the brand.

So, what gifts should companies offer to employees this holiday season? Surprisingly, when presented with benefits like bonuses or a raise, 52% of employees in the Snappy survey said what they were most looking for was appreciation or recognition.

According to Archer Chiang, CEO at Giftpack, an AI-powered service that helps employers send personalized gifts, employees are also clamoring for are ways to improve their mental health or have more fun experiences–no surprise, given the repercussions of COVID-19 still reverberating nationwide.

“Anything that helps people do things like fishing, painting, looking good, working out, dressing up or hanging out with friends is popular this year,” Chiang says. “Experience is a lot more valuable for people nowadays than just owning stuff.”

So far, Chiang says Giftpack has sent out 40,000 corporate gifts this year, and many well-known U.S. employers are already using the service, including Google, Vonage, Cisco and others.

Related: How Macy’s hopes to drive employee retention with upskilling effort

Bailey offers five ways employers can express gratitude during the holidays (and go on to make the practice a regular event):

  • prioritize mental health
  • give praise publicly
  • make gifts meaningful
  • offer paid holiday leave
  • survey teams on what they need for next year.

“This is a way of paying your gratitude forward,” Bailey says, adding that the holiday season and end of the year are great times to tune into teams and strategize how to help them do their jobs better next year.

“Being heard and having their thoughts turned into action by management help employees feel appreciated,” she says. “If your work culture is not operating with gratitude, not only will the holidays feel a bit empty, but your potential as a company will remain unfulfilled.”

Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at