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Should You Give Gifts to Employees? Ethical Rules to Gift Giving

If you’re like many bosses of small businesses out there, you might have wondered if it’s appropriate to give gifts to employees. Well, you’re not alone: many managers out there struggle with this question, especially if they’re new to leadership or are just trying something out for the first time.

So, is it okay to give gifts to your employees? And how do you keep it ethical? Read on to find out!

Why You Should Gift Employees

You should give gifts to employees because they are a great way to show your appreciation and keep your employees happy, motivated, engaged, and loyal. It’s good for them as well as your business because it can help boost their productivity.

Gift Examples for Employees

Whether they work remotely or in an office setup, one thing is for sure. The list of the best gifts for your employees is literally endless. Depending on who and when you’re getting the gift, here’s a small list of just a few:

  • Gift cards and baskets (especially for holidays)
  • Flowers
  • Candy and other sweets (for birthdays or special occasions)
  • Lunch or dinner out with coworkers
  • Cookies and coffee during meetings
  • Wine at Christmas parties, etc.

Gift-Giving Ethics for The Workplace

Gift-giving is a great way to show your employees that you appreciate them. The sentimentality of a gift can be irreplaceable. It can make the recipient feel special, thoughtful, and valued.

On the other hand, giving gifts can also be fraught with ethical issues if not handled properly, and on this note, the following pointers can serve as a guide for gifting employees:

Company policy on gift-giving

If your company has a gift-giving policy, it must be clear and consistent. The policy should also be communicated to employees, understood, and respected by managers.

If the company doesn’t have an official policy but you want to give gifts anyway, it’s still important to ensure that your gift-giving practices are ethical. For instance, don’t use gifts as bribes or rewards for special favors.

Is the gift appropriate?

Before you buy a gift for an employee, ask yourself if it’s appropriate. How would the gift look to others? Think of its appropriateness to the occasion and who will be attending.

If you’re giving a baby shower present, then a stuffed animal is fine because everyone can relate to babies. But if your coworker has been ill for weeks on end and has just returned, maybe give them flowers instead.

Think about how your coworker feels about getting gifts in general as well—they might not want anything at all!

The legality of the gift

It is legal to give employees gifts. Gifts do not have to be reported as income on their W-2 forms, nor are they taxable for the employee receiving them.

Most importantly, the gift should be legal and permitted by the company. Things like drugs or firearms shouldn’t even be considered gifts.

How much is too much?

You shouldn’t give employees gifts that are too small. Employees should feel valued, and they shouldn’t feel like they have to work for free or for cheap.

It’s also important not to overdo things either. If someone does something nice for you once in a while but doesn’t do much else throughout their employment at your company, it may seem awkward if they receive something extravagant from management.

Keep it professional

As you think about giving gifts, consider that some items may be misinterpreted or even misunderstood if given in the workplace. For example, perfume or clothing might be seen as too personal, and the recipient might misread your intentions – especially if they are of the opposite gender.

A lot of issues come into play when giving gifts to employees. It’s important to think about what you give and how much it costs. It also pays to remember that giving gifts can be illegal depending on who receives them and where they work.

That being said, if you do decide to give a gift to an employee at work or even just around the holidays then make sure it is appropriate for all parties involved! Lastly, keep it professional at all times!


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