The best Thanksgiving gifts for employees make them feel valued as an essential part of your team. With that in mind, however, it’s important to remember that no two employees are the same! Now that the holiday season is upon us, making sure you choose the right employee appreciation gifts to show your gratitude is vital to creating a happy workplace.
Anyone who’s worked long enough in corporate America has likely had occasion to roll their eyes at a company gift: an ugly t-shirt with the company logo; a pen and notepad seemingly worth less than $1; or countless coffee mugs.
Employers are generally aware that the gifts they give to employees aren’t necessarily going to be home runs. After all, it’s usually easier to opt for a practical gift than something that takes hours of thoughtful hard work to plan out. And with companies expected to get gifts for dozens if not hundreds or thousands of workers, it can be difficult (and expensive!) to get something personalized for everyone.
But research from The 2021-22 Employer Gift-Giving Report suggests that, with respect to company gifts, it often is the thought that counts. The report features data from a survey of 1,092 US-based employees that cover a wide range of topics surrounding receiving and giving corporate gifts. 57 percent of surveyed employees said they’re more likely to be loyal and continue working for a company that provides gifts to employees, while 62 percent said they do not expect to receive a gift from their employer at all this year for the holidays.
These two data points suggest an opportunity for employers to surprise their workers with a token of their appreciation this year. Most workers aren’t expecting a gift at all and studies prove that the thoughtful gesture would increase team-wide loyalty to the organization.
Stumped on where to begin? There are plenty of gift options on the market, but choosing the right gifts for your employees’ personalities is important.
It’s also essential to take different positions into consideration. Do you have employees that work remotely? Or, did a new employee just start? Depending on their job position and role with the company, the type of gift you buy can differ greatly.
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What Makes For A Thoughtful Thanksgiving Gift?
When choosing gifts for your team, you will want to ensure they are thoughtful and exciting. To do so, here are some things to consider.
Is it appropriate?
While your goal is to build better relationships with employees, keep in mind you still employ them. With that power comes the responsibility to create a comfortable environment, which also applies to gift-giving.
Making sure not to show favoritism is also essential. If you overspend on one team member, you might think you are rewarding them and fostering healthy competition in the workplace. However, it could have the opposite effect and alienate the recipient, creating resentment among other employees. The perfect gift shows your employees that each of them is cared for and valued equally for their contributions to your organization’s success.
Is it personalized?
Choosing gifts that match the employee’s personality is a must and will likely require going beyond the standard gift basket.
With a more sizable and diverse team, this might be more difficult, but not impossible. You can send out a survey asking employees about their interests or have HR do some legwork uncovering peoples’ likes and dislikes.
This doesn’t have to be an in-depth survey about every aspect of their lives—just a brief overview to get a general idea of their interests and hobbies.
Does it create a positive and memorable experience?
Everyone loves receiving gifts. Ensure your Thanksgiving gift ideas for employees meet the criteria of generating a feel-good space that the team will remember for years to come. The goal is to have everyone ride a wave of positive emotions at work to create a happy bonding experience. This means understanding all of the wonderful cultural differences that make your team shine!
Read on for some options to help you create a gift guide for employees that most appropriately expresses your appreciation so you can give great Thanksgiving gifts.
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1. Grocery store gift cards
A grocery store gift card is a thoughtful gift for employees that everyone can use - especially around the holidays. Upgrade the experience with a gift card to a grocery delivery service so that your team members can relax while someone else does the Thanksgiving turkey shopping!
You can also give books that match employees' interests as Thanksgiving gifts. For instance, you might gift a book about the Industrial Revolution to a team member if they love history or a cookbook to another who loves Bon Appetit. A thought-provoking book based on an employee's hobbies shows there was thought put into the gift.
3. Magazine subscription
Books are not the only important source of knowledge. Increasingly, online publications and magazines are keeping content locked behind a paywall. For this reason, offering a yearly subscription to team members can be a wonderful gift for those intellectually curious individuals on your team.
4. Portable power bank
Those who commute to work and spend at least eight hours in the workplace often battle the cell phone power shortage. It’s not uncommon for phone batteries to die during the day, which can often lead to panic. (“Does anyone have a phone charger?!”). So, the portable power bank is definitely a practical, and thoughtful gift.
5. Filter water bottle
Unsafe drinking water can be a reality for team members who may travel internationally. Water bottles with built-in filters are a great solution for ensuring folks have clean water no matter where they are. These bottles can clean up 99.9% of waterborne parasites & bacteria from water sources in many countries where water quality can be an issue.
6. Plant terrarium desk garden
Air plant terrarium gardens add a touch of greenery to every desk, boosting team members moods and possibly promoting better health.
The best part is they are low maintenance, so no need to have a green thumb to take care of their own mini-greenhouse!
7. Yoga accessories
For yogis on your team, a beautiful yoga mat gift box is an excellent choice. These boxes can include a high-quality yoga mat, a carrying pouch with a shoulder strap, and a chiller cup for yogurt or smoothies with a separate compartment to keep toppings crisp.
This is an excellent gift for teams that might not be eager to participate in an online or in-person class together but still value individual fitness and wellness activities.
8. Ear warmers with built-in headphones
This is a good one for employees who live in cold climates as we approach the chilly time of year. If you have athletic employees, they might enjoy running with a pair of ear warmers that double as headphones. It’s also great for anyone who defies the arctic cold and walks to work.
9. LED cinema box light
If you’re looking for a workspace upgrade that works at home or in the office, an LED Cinema Box Light makes an excellent desk decoration. Your team can place them alongside their workstations and create their own words or phrases that will brighten their day.
10. Fitness tracker
With the pandemic meaning gyms and other fitness outlets were often closed, the past few years have made it challenging for people to maintain their physical fitness.
Even as lockdowns have lifted, employees have struggled to get back into their old routines with the shift to remote and hybrid work. You can let your fitness-conscious employees know you care about their health and wellness by gifting them a fitness tracker or smartwatch.
As the New Year is right around the corner, you can even use this fitness gift to run challenges, with rewards for participation. It’s a fun way to engage your employees and promote health and wellness, all at the same time.
11. Wellness packages
A wellness package can be a great holiday gift that shows your employees how much you care about their well-being.
This kind of gift can have mood-boosting effects on the entire workplace and work environment – employees with mental health concerns have shown to be 26% less productive and 32% less engaged than their colleagues. A wellness package can show your team that they’re appreciated and put the spark back in their step.
12. Chocolate box
For the chocoholics on your team, check out an artisan chocolate gift box. These boxes include everything from raw cacao beans to gourmet bars from different countries of origin that are known for their high-end chocolate.
13. Charitable donation
Thanksgiving is the season of giving, and many of your employees will appreciate donations being made in their names to a worthy cause to express gratitude. A lot of companies have been including donations in their holiday gifting strategy for years, and it’s always a good move.
Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, are extremely impact-driven, and prefer companies with a strong sense of social responsibility. They will likely appreciate the opportunity to give something back rather than just receiving something themselves.
14. Extended vacation
Nothing says ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ like an extra day or two off from work!
Well, even you can't deny how happy your employees would be if you gave them some extra to enjoy their holidays as a token of appreciation. Providing additional PTO is a great gift to not only amplify festive joy but also solidify you as a company that cares for its people.
15. Cash Bonus
There’s no polite way to say this – cash is probably the #1 globally desired company gift for employees. Cash is king – there is no better present to give than an extra check at the end of the year. It’s the universally inclusive gift.
A personal touch can go a long way
You shouldn’t just spend money to show your appreciation—get personal. There has been a dramatic shift in the workplace recently in purchasing psychology to ensure the recipient feels a personal connection once the gift is opened.
And this doesn’t just mean the traditional personalized whiskey bottle with someone’s name on it. These gifts should be centered more around the individuals themselves—from favorite activities to maximizing workouts to contributing to social causes.
Happy employees = successful companies
When a company’s success rides on how motivated its employees are, staying connected as a team has to be a top priority. If you’re looking for ways to encourage your crew, boost morale and gain loyalty, Thanksgiving gifts can make all the difference.