Everyone wants to be appreciated for what they do and recognized for who they are. It’s why one of the main drivers of employee retention is appreciation and recognition.

A great way to show your employees you recognize and appreciate them is with a thoughtful gift. This could mark the completion of a big project, but sometimes it’s even better to do it for no reason at all. After all, if there’s no excuse for the gift, like a holiday or milestone, then it can only have been given in recognition of the person themself.  

But while gifting can be a valuable tool, it’s easy to leave to the last minute. And just like the hardworking and under-appreciated mothers of the world, employees can sometimes get left to the bottom of the gift list.  

While the broad themes are similar to client-gifting mistakes, the details are different. Here are five of the biggest last-minute mistakes to avoid if you find yourself in that situation. 

Don’t Be a Perfectionist

Finding the perfect gift is maybe doable for your spouse, significant other, best friend, or sibling. If you’re shopping for one person you know well, maybe you can pull it off. 

But if you’re gift shopping for employees, you’re buying gifts for whole teams at a time. Even if you know them all well, that’s just way too much detail to keep straight in your mind. 

Perfect is sometimes the enemy of good, so focus on finding a good gift for everyone, rather than a perfect gift for anyone. Look for commonalities in your teams. What they do can be a great inspiration, and a practical gift themed around that is a great starting point. 

Something Isn’t Better Than Nothing

Unless you’ve announced you’re gifting your employees in advance, it's likely that nobody is expecting a gift. So, it’s not as though once you’ve decided it’s a good idea, you’re locked in and everyone must get a gift by such-and-such time.

This isn’t to say that it doesn’t matter if your employees get gifts or not. It does. The point is you shouldn’t go into this process thinking you absolutely need a gift, and therefore any gift will do. 

While you don’t want to be a perfectionist, a disappointing gift, or one that’s tonally or otherwise inappropriate, is worse than no gift at all. Every gift is a statement about what you think is important. Make sure it’s something the receiver also thinks is important. 

Make sure, as well, that the gift you go with aligns with the values of your business: this is an opportunity to make people feel good about where they work as well as about themselves. 

Don’t Trust Your Brain

Last-minute panic is bad for the high-level decision-making parts of our brains. When stress levels are high, our brains react like we’re in physical danger, so they prioritize decision-making like, “Where should I run so this T-Rex doesn’t eat me?” over abstract things like “Would Debbie in accounting prefer a red-banded watch or a burgundy-banded watch?”

When you’re stressed out over last-minute gifting, that makes it easy to just buy something arbitrarily for the sake of having something. This is because you’re trusting your brain, which is just trying to make the source of your stress go away, and it will lower its standards until it’s successful. Danger gone = happy brain. You know that feeling of “What was I thinking?” You weren’t, and that’s the problem.

So don’t trust your brain. Trust what you know about your teams: talk to them, talk to your managers. Go back and read the pdf somewhere on the company servers talking about your values. 

And, when in doubt, do not get knick-knacks. The best gifts are both memorable and practical. Nobody wants something from the checkout aisle. 

Keep Your Budget Front and Center

This is another easy one to lose track of, especially when you’re shopping for many people at once.

There are a variety of factors that will influence how much your gifting will cost: how many people you’re shopping for, what each thing costs, how much tax there is, if there are shipping or storage costs, etc. It’s easy to lose track of one or two, especially if you’re stressed and your brain is paying less attention to spreadsheets.

Keep your budget close at hand and check your ideas against it regularly. This means physically: have your budget written down somewhere, and write down your ideas and who you’re buying gifts for. Think of it like external storage you can access even if your CPU is shutting down. Writing things down also makes it easier to remember them.

You definitely don’t want to go over budget, but you don’t want to go way under-budget either. If you have the money allocated, use it. Of course, if you find the perfect gift(s) way under budget, that’s even better. 

Don’t Shop Last Minute

We’re kind of cheating here. But the easiest way to solve all these mistakes is if you leave yourself enough time to solve them. Of course, you’re busy, and so is basically everyone else; who has the time?

That’s why choosing the right gifting partner is so important. We live and breathe gifting: it’s what we do every day, so we can take the time to get it right. We’re familiar with all the ins and outs of corporate gifting solutions, from timing and storage logistics to curating lists of appropriately themed options, making your gifting experience that much more seamless and effective.

Check out our solutions to find out how you can streamline your employee gifting.

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