In a recent survey carried out by a hamper company (so you need to be a little cynical about the findings as there is a vested interest here), they found that 1 in 6 British businesses have sent gifts to the homes of their employees, by way of thanking them for their hard work and ongoing support during Coronavirus, with a further 1 in 3 considering a similar act of kindness in a bid to boost staff morale.
These are not statistics that I recognise and when I have sensed checked them amongst our clients and my business network, there is very little corroboration for these numbers. As a general rule at the moment, businesses are in one of three places
- thriving as their services are in greater need than ever before
- struggling as their customers have just dried up
- figuring out how to pivot to take the best advantage of the current situation
However, speaking to most of our clients, they are trying to tighten their belts as much as possible to give themselves the best possible chance of surviving the current health and business crisis, so quite how that fits into the gift picture reported above, I’m not sure.
All of that said, I think the ability and willingness to give gifts is about saying “please” and “thank you”. Employees need to know you care about them and gifts, when done right, can be a great way of doing this.
Some of the High Street food retailers have openly announced that they are paying cash bonuses to all of their staff as a way of saying “please” and “thank you”. These are employees who are working incredibly hard while furloughed friends and family are on 80% of salary for doing nothing.
But it is not all about the money. There are a variety of gifts which employers can use to show appreciation for their staff, not just during the coronavirus, but at other times as well. Personally, I send chocolates to my team at Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas time – it is my way of saying thanks for all your hard work.
Other options for popular gifts include bottles of wine, hampers of food, weekends away, tickets for the theatre and gift / shopping vouchers. As a slight variation, some employers will offer extra holiday as a way of saying “Thank you, go have some down-time”.
People won’t remember what you say to them, but they will remember how you make them feel and if you make staff feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to stay engaged and willing to go the extra mile when needed. They are more likely to be loyal, if they feel appreciated.
There are some considerations when giving gifts to your employees.
The first is whether or not it is a taxable benefit. HMRC has very strict guidelines around what can be given and how it must be treated for accounting and tax purposes, so it is important to understand that BEFORE you end up giving yourself and / or your employee an unexpected tax bill.
The second is around the bribery act. Again, there are rules around what would be considered to be a bribe and it is important that anything you give goes not leave you falling foul of your own bribery policy or legislation.
Finally, you need to be careful not to offend anyone. Now this may sound easy, but sometimes doing the right thing is actually the wrong thing to do! How would a diabetic employee feel if you sent them a hamper of chocolates? How would a Muslim employee feel if you sent them a case of wine? How would a vegetarian feel if you treated them to dinner for two at your best local steak restaurant?
It’s not what you do, but the way that you do it that gets you the results you want. Want to say “please” and “thank you” to your staff? Don’t F*** up the execution with a lovely gesture gone wrong!
If you do want to send a treat to employees, here are my top two recommendations: