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Holiday gift giving: What employers need to consider

employee gift giving

You may already know what you’re getting friends and family for the holidays, but have you thought about your employees? What’s the perfect gift to show your workers that they are valued and appreciated?

Turns out that employee gift giving is not as easy as you think. A gift that’s too personal could come off as unprofessional while gifting something too generic could come off as thoughtless. And if you forgo gifts all together, your staff may feel slighted—not the way you want to end the year.

Things to consider when giving employee gifts

To help make your gift giving process easier, we’ve compiled some best practices to keep in mind for this holiday season.

Set a budget

While you would love to give all your employees Apple Watches, you also don’t want to close out the year in the red. Don’t let a gesture as simple as a holiday gift run your business into the ground.

Avoid favoritism

Giving one person a noticeably pricier or more thoughtful gift than the rest of your staff may get you accused of playing favorites. Exceptions can be made for personal assistants; however it’s generally a good idea to spend the same amount on every employee.

Rethink cash or bonuses

Monetary rewards can be tricky. Although bonuses are always welcome, your employees may feel entitled to receive the same amount, if not more, every year. If you don’t want to get stuck giving bonuses every holiday season or you’re on a limited budget, look into other, more creative ways to thank your employees.

Keep it professional

Steer clear of gag gifts or gifts with religious or romantic overtones. This doesn’t mean your gift can’t be fun or meaningful. Instead, consider a gift that’s related to your employee’s day-to-day work life. For instance, pick up a gift card to a local coffee shop or a new Hydro Flask for employees on the go.

Consider shared gifts

If you don’t have time to buy individual gifts, go with something your whole staff can enjoy, like a holiday party or special staff lunch. Creating a memorable event for your employees is a great way to show your appreciation and can be a great team building experience. However, keep in mind that holiday parties can come with potential liability issues, so plan accordingly.

Remember your IRS obligations

Be aware that the gifts you give your employees may fall within the definition of wages for income tax withholding and payroll tax purposes. There are exceptions, so it’s important that you discuss this with your payroll and tax representatives to ensure you are in compliance.

The holiday season is a wonderful time to show your employees that you appreciate their work. Saying thank you with an employee gift will maintain a nurturing work culture and set a positive tone for the upcoming new year.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.

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