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Giving gifts is an age-old custom in many cultures. In some countries, such as Japan, it's practically a science. A gift can be used to express respect, affection, gratitude, or appreciation.
Over the years, giving business gifts to motivate employees has become an accepted practice. As long as you take care to keep the gifts professionally appropriate, your gift incentives are limited only by the boundaries of your own creativity.
Gift Giving as Motivation
Think for a moment about Ebenezer Scrooge in the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Remember when the Ghost of Christmas Past reminds him of the holiday parties his old employer used to throw? Scrooge grudgingly admits that even though they cost his employer only a few pounds, the happiness those parties brought the staff was immeasurable.
That's kind of how gifts work as motivators on the job. They don't have to cost a lot, but they say to employees that their management thinks of them as more than just workers. They show that the company pays attention to the employees when they go the extra mile and demonstrates that loyalty and hard work are valued.
The Right Time
The appropriate occasions for giving a gift can be many and varied. A gift tied to performance or meeting a certain goal is a great incentive. A gift for no reason at all, especially when morale or energy is running a little low, often works wonders as well. Here are a few other times when giving a gift is a natural motivator:
Guidelines for Giving
Here are some general do's and don'ts for gift giving at work:
Use discretion. Be very careful not to give gifts that are unrelated to specific work performance to one individual. Not only does that suggest favoritism to this employee, but it also can suggest a form of sexual harassment to the recipient or to your Human Resources Department.
Variety is key. Vary the gifts you give so that they don't become old hat. If you sent cookies last month, spring for coffee mugs with the team name on them next month.
Don't use gifts as bribes. Gifts are gifts-they don't come with strings attached. A gift should simply be your way of expressing appreciation.
Do give appropriate gifts. Anything that's sexually suggestive or in poor taste doesn't belong in your office and could land you in hot water.
Don't overdo. After all, this isn't a social club; it's work. When all is said and done, remember that an employee is likely to appreciate 10 minutes of your undivided attention to help him solve a problem more than a red rose on his desk every month...
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