by Gloria Petersen
Has time gotten away from you? In your “busyness” have you forgotten to show appreciation throughout this past year? It happens to all of us, and that is why the holiday season is the perfect time to reach out and show your appreciation—and you can do this effectively as a gesture or in the form of a gift. Research indicates that a holiday thank-you or end-of-the-year gesture reinforces commitment to employees and customers and sends a reminder to prospective clients.
Honor Company Gift Policies
It is not easy for the well-intentioned individual to know the gift policy of every customer and every company. People get caught up in the spirit of the holidays and want to show their appreciation, yet companies must be careful and make sure that the gifts or gestures cannot be interpreted as gifts to guarantee future work or promotions (e.g., interpreted as a bribe).
Due to this sensitivity over interpreting gifts, there is a tendency toward making charitable contributions in the name of the gift recipient. This allows you to send a card to acknowledge your relationship with the recipient and do something beneficial to society in general—perhaps a charitable organization that your company supports—without crossing over any ethical boundaries.
The appropriateness of office gift giving is determined by company policy, personal relationships, and sensitivity. While some companies do not have a gift policy, others have a dollar limit or other guidelines explaining what their employees can and cannot give and what they can receive. Check with your (or your client’s) human resources department regarding the company policy on offering or accepting gifts.
Find out what is appropriate and what falls within corporate gift guidelines; and try to learn something personal about the gift recipient. The gift then becomes a gift with impact.
Consider the following when making your gift selection:
- Find out the dollar limit for gifts as stated in the company policy. For example, the gift value norm for most companies is fifty dollars ($50.00).
- Does the type of gift violate any company policies (e.g., a gift of liquor)?
- Will the gift make you feel obligated to the person or to the company?
One final note: A gift is a token of appreciation. Sometimes, a verbal or written thank-you adds the perfect touch. The gift could even be intangible, such as volunteering at a charity in the name of the client. Extend a gift that is from your heart, has meaning for the recipient, and expresses good will.
Gloria Petersen, CPP, is an author, trainer, and speaker on Professional Presence, Business Etiquette and Protocol. Gloria is a graduate of the Protocol School of Washington® and has received numerous certifications on her subject matter. Her four-book series, “The Art of Professional Connections,” and SME training modules represent her 30+ year legacy. Experience the learning at Gloria’s interactive seminars, workshops, and training. For details, visit GloriaPetersen.com or email direct firstname.lastname@example.org.