Employee Gifting: What the Best Bosses Know
Why expressing gratitude is good for employees— and business
Does your workplace offer employees an in-office masseuse? What about free onsite fitness classes, a video game arcade, or unlimited food and barista-made coffees?
Unless you run a multi-billion dollar company like Google or Facebook, these employee perks are likely out of your budget. But even if you don’t have millions to spend, employee happiness is definitely worth investing in. As the world’s best bosses know, giving generously to employees isn’t just a nice thing to do—it’s a key ingredient for success.
Why Employee Appreciation Matters
If you want the best and brightest to work for you, employee appreciation is crucial to attracting and retaining top talent, and studies prove it.
Employees who have their achievements recognised at work are six times more likely to recommend the organisation as a great place to work, and 11 times more likely to feel committed to their job. On the other hand, employees who don’t feel adequately appreciated are twice as likely to quit in the following year.
Appreciation doesn’t just keep employees on board; it actually makes them better workers. Not only are happy employees more fun to spend Mondays with, they’re up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees.
“Everyone loves to feel special and appreciated, and it’s important to me that they feel respected. It definitely makes them feel good, and when we feel good, we do our best work.”
Sheree Knobel | Founder, Bixie Colour
Creating a Culture of Gratitude
Sheree Knobel, owner of Sydney-based hair salon Bixie Colour, is the perfect example of a small business boss who leads an impressive all-star staff by helping them to recognise each other’s greatness at every opportunity. Together, they operate an award-winning hair salon that is nationally recognised as a top spot for colouring, styling, and balayage. They also have an Instagram account full of tips and inspo that boasts over 90K followers! Anyone wanting to grow a thriving business like theirs could learn from the creative ways appreciation is integrated into Bixie’s workplace culture:
Weekly team meetings offer Bixie employees an opportunity celebrate any wins the team has had. Team members also receive shout-outs across Bixie’s social platforms and blog when they complete apprenticeships, get promoted, or receive national recognition for their work. And because kind words are most genuinely expressed in a relaxed setting over coffee, the employees of Bixie occasionally take their meetings on the road and go for a lovely breakfast at Cronulla Beach to connect and catch up.
To Sheree, the talented crew who work for her are more than just employees, “These guys are my work family, and I adore them.”
From beautiful cakes on birthdays, to flowers and champagne on work anniversaries, it’s important to her that her work fam gets shown lots of love. Pregnant employees are thrown baby showers; which can be anything from lunch in the city to a gorgeous catered picnic. And forget boring office parties— Christmas at Bixie means a hired house in Palm Beach complete with fiestas, a BBQ breakfast cook-up, and a party bus. As Sheree puts it, “Any chance to spoil them, I’m in.”
To keep the positive vibes high, the Bixie crew will often write anonymous notes about something they love or admire about each other. Sometimes, the team will choose affirmation cards to set themselves up for the day. They even take quarterly meditation and mindfulness classes! To them, employee appreciation isn’t just some bullet point on a memo; it’s a regular, intentional practice that starts from within.
Bixie’s culture of gratitude is clearly strengthened by quality time
spent creating positive memories together. With COVID-19 lockdowns, showing appreciation while physically apart has required some extra creativity, such as sending gift boxes with comforting themes like a Little Box of Good Vibes or a Little Box of Happiness:
“We had been in lockdown and I was missing the team. I wanted to do something special for them but also something that aligned with our values. Little Shop of Happiness really resonated with me. It had all the elements I was looking for:
sweets, wine, affirmation cards, a happiness diary, etc. The box is so pretty and then you open it up to see the rays of sunshine flowing out. It just makes you feel good, and we all need that. The day the team received the boxes was the day the lockdown was extended, so it really helped lift their moods.”
As the Bixie team demonstrates so well, employee appreciation is best expressed through a thoughtful combination of praise, gifts, public recognition, opportunities for growth, and a genuine connection to each other. And happy employees make for happy bosses too. As Sheree notes, “Nothing makes me more excited than seeing their gorgeous faces when we surprise them with a gift or gesture to celebrate their wins.”
How To Give Like a Boss
Building a thriving culture of gratitude takes time, but fortunately there are some quick tips you can apply now if your employee appreciation skills could use a little tune-up. Employee gifting is the perfect way to show appreciation to the people who make your business possible. You can maximise each gifting opportunity by doing something for your employees that will be seen as personal, meaningful, and genuine. Here’s how:
1) When deciding between cash bonuses or gifts, go for the gifts. Researchers have found gifts to be far more motivating than unexpected cash bonuses, even when the gift value was less than the cash bonus value. The reason? It really is the thought that counts! Employees felt that the gift showed that their boss cared more about them. Not only that, but employee productivity increased so much because of the gifts that they essentially paid for themselves.
2) One study found that the awards employees found most meaningful included a gifts/merchandise, a meal out, customised items, and experiential gifts. These options may not always be possible during COVID lockdowns, but fortunately, there are some creative alternatives that can be delivered right to their door.
Instead of treating employees to a meal out, you could bring the fancy French restaurant to them by gifting a hamper full of French champagne and gourmet treats. As a COVID-proof alternative to an experiential gift like a trip to the spa, try sending your employees some at-home pampering with a hamper full of luxurious lotions, scrubs, teas and a heating pillow; like this Restore Me gift set.
3) Include a handwritten note with your gift. Give them a motivation boost by including a specific example of something they’ve recently done well. In a world of emails and texts, a handwritten note stands out as being particularly thoughtful and meaningful. Plus, handwritten cards can be stored in a desk drawer or displayed on the wall for when they need that extra pick-me-up on a tough day. When ordering online, try using a gifting service that includes a handwritten message with your delivery.
By giving your employees the gift of gratitude, you’ll strengthen connections with your employees and improve your working relationships. Doing so will help to create a strong business that employees will genuinely love to do their best work for. It’s a financially savvy move. But more importantly, it just makes everybody feel good. To quote Michael Scott of ‘The Office,’ a man who proudly self-identifies as the World’s Best Boss, “The people you work with are, when you get down to it, your very best friends.”
“I’d love to say a special thank you to the Little Shop of Happiness team for their amazing customer service and prompt responses. It made sending 15 personalised boxes to another state so effortless and easy, and I was so happy with the quality of the gifting boxes. Highly recommend to anyone looking to brighten up someone’s day.”
-Sheree Knobel, Bixie Colour