Holiday Gift Ideas for Employees

22 Sep 2022

The holiday season can be fun, fulfilling and meaningful. But for employers and employees, it can be especially busy and, sometimes, hectic.

For employers, it’s about getting the work done with a reduced staff, distracted employees and end-of-year demands coming from clients, vendors and corporate offices. Employers need to plan and shop for employee holiday gifts and end-of-year rewards that please everyone and show some meaningful appreciation, as well as plan and execute holiday festivities.

For employees, it’s about getting the same amount of work done in fewer days, travel plans and dealing with their personal holiday shopping and visiting family members and loved ones.

The verdict on office Christmas parties

With many companies reopening their office buildings, some employers are wondering if it’s time to restart in-person holiday parties. A Blackhawk Network study found that office holiday parties remain the least desired holiday reward among employees.

This survey also found that 82% of employees prefer prepaid cards and gift cards over all other types of gifts. With gift cards at the top of this list, here are the other rewards people prefer:

  • Additional vacation days: 47%
  • Food gifts: 28%
  • Physical gifts: 21%
  • Free lunch: 21%
  • Office party: 16%

We’ll talk more about prepaid cards and gift cards as great options later in this article. But here’s a hint: If you’re considering gift baskets, logoed merchandise or an office holiday party, that may not be the best way to go.

Shortages and out-of-stocks

We’re continuing to see merchandise shortages and increasing out of stocks, which means chances of you showing some holiday appreciation for your employees -and doing it on time-are already threatened.

According to Small Business Trends, the nation’s ports are seriously backlogged. There aren’t enough workers to unload ships at the docks, and there aren’t enough truckers to get product to stores, either.

In other words, it’s not too early to shop for the holidays.

Delivery delays, too

With global supply chain issues expected to persist this year, logistics experts, courier companies and postal services are advising that gifts should be shipped much earlier than usual. No longer can you wait until the last minute to shop, let alone ship.

Don’t gift another ugly sweater

It seems easy enough to purchase some holiday-themed chocolate, maybe even throw in a bottle of wine or champagne as an extra special treat. But there lies your problem. When you bulk order gift boxes, there is no telling what people are allergic to, dislike or simply cannot stand.

With almost half of employees believing that their employers are bad gifters, the pressure to provide a gift that is thoughtful and useful for all your employees is higher than ever. In fact, Blackhawk Network found that 27% of employees expect a holiday gift from their employer. They also found that 3 in 10 employees would consider joining a new company if they were to give out holiday gift cards. Compared to older employees, younger employees are twice as likely to report this sentiment. Bottom line: giving holiday gift cards could attract and retain younger talent.

But what’s worse than not getting a gift at all? Returning an unwanted gift. According to Blackhawk Network, 73% of people are annoyed when having to return or exchange gifts. Instead of associating your company with happiness and joy, a disgruntled employee making a return is robbed of two meaningful moments: receiving a desired and useful gift and getting the happiness of shopping for their preferred gift.

Gift smart-give gift cards

Now that we’ve covered some of the holiday employee gifting problems, let’s talk about smart gifting solutions.

Would it be smart to give your employees the most requested holiday wishlist item for the past 16 years in a row? The most requested items are gift cards and prepaid cards.

Would it be even smarter to give them the most requested kind of gift card? The most requested kind of card is a Mastercard® or Visa* prepaid card.

Gift cards & prepaid cards

Employees like choice. They like the flexibility and convenience of being able to pick out their own gift and to pick out exactly what they want or need. To emphasize this point, in the same Blackhawk Network study mentioned above, employees had fun sharing their least favourite holiday gifts from employers, including:

  1. A regifted shirt that was the wrong size
  2. A box of cereal
  3. A calendar for the past year to reflect on how well the company did
  4. A bottle of salad dressing
  5. A gift basket full of expired food items
  6. Xbox controller when I didn’t have an Xbox

Though comical to read, it’s not fun to be on the receiving end of an unwanted gift. In fact, 90% of employees surveyed believe that if you don’t know what to get someone, a gift card gives the person an opportunity to shop for their own perfect gift. Though it’s impossible to know all your employees’ preferences and interests, a gift card allows them to choose their own gifting experience.

Welcome to the digital age

More people are using their phones and their mobile wallets for digital transactions-online and in-store-than ever before. In fact, the pandemic accelerated digital payment adoption three years ahead of expectations, with 33% of younger people planning to purchase gifts online.

Also, where digital gifting used to be reserved for last-minute gifting, digital rewards and eGift cards are gaining widespread adoption as preferred contactless reward and payment options.

Going digital for your employee holiday shopping is sure to delight, especially for younger Gen Z and millennial workers.

blackhawk network research

As an incentives and employee rewards industry leader, Blackhawk Network offers a wide range of virtual and digital reward options, including virtual Mastercard prepaid cards and eGifts from top national brands. Blackhawk Network specializes in providing bulk gift cards for your business, making ordering rewards easy and seamless.

Besides convenience and desirability, virtual prepaid cards and eGift cards remove all worries about product shortages, shipping delays or out-of-stock disappointments.

The statistics don’t lie. As a business owner, you must be moved by data. Luckily enough for you, we’ve done the research. More and more people are using gift cards every day-so why not make their holiday even more special with a digital gift card?

Holiday celebration ideas

As we wrap up, let’s not forget what the holidays are all about: celebrating and appreciating each other and our teams. With a little creativity, you and your team can come up with your own ideas for spreading holiday joy, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Lunch celebration

Transform any meeting by giving restaurant or food delivery gift cards to your team. Before the meeting starts, give your employees a chance to order lunch and have it picked up or delivered around the same time. Then, have employees eat together in the meeting. It’s a win-win: employees get to bond and receive exactly what they want while you don’t have to do the guess work of choosing a restaurant.

  1. Wellness days

Rather than inviting employees to a holiday party they may not enjoy, why not give them wellness gift cards and extra time off to recuperate? Employees can take photos of themselves relaxing at the spa, in a fitness class or doing meditation and post it on your employee Slack or MS Teams channel.

  1. Trivia party

Finish a company-wide meeting with a trivia contest. For virtual meetings, you can use platforms like Water Cooler Trivia or Random Trivia Generator. Winners can be rewarded with virtual prepaid cards.

  1. Host a local outing

With many local venues being open this year, consider having your holiday gathering at an unexpected place, like a museum, aquarium or escape room near restaurants or a food court. No matter the location, your employees will appreciate getting out of the office. After teambuilding, give employees prepaid cards to spend on lunch together.

Want to learn more? Check out our full range of holiday rewards here.

Happy holidays to you and your employees!

Source: 2022 Holiday Branded Pay Study, Blackhawk Network, 2022

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