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Gifts For Employees

Gifts For Employees

Sometimes I shake my head in disbelief as people share with me how thoughtless or simply dumb some employers are about giving a gift. People have worked harder this year than they have in years – and for most, there will be no Christmas bonus. So a well thought out gift will make the difference.

Recently we surveyed 3000 employees about the “best” and “worst” gifts they had ever received and why.

Here’s what NOT to do:

Effort versus reward imbalance and offensive to employees

  • “A sparkly nail file for working hard, my manager’s heart was in the right place but it was a strange ‘reward’ to receive for working my butt off”
  • “A Mars bar for the anniversary of working with the organisation. It made me feel unappreciated”
  • “Microwave popcorn and one bottle of sparkling to share amongst 10 people to celebrate major account resigning”
  • “For my five years of service – a choice of a wallet, a $5 bottle of wine, a plastic picture frame, playing cards and 2 other pieces of garbage – what an insult”


  • “A taco bell watch for 5 years of service and a letter misspelling my name”
  • “Being told at Christmas time that I should be giving my employer a Christmas present to demonstrate my gratitude for working for him”
  • “A pen that didn’t work”
  • “$5 Itunes Gift Card for Christmas”
  • “Herb sachets from a channel promotion”
  • “20c pay rise”

Not so much the reward, but the way it is delivered

  • Certificates with misspelt names
  • Sarcasm
  • Little thought
  • Obvious mistakes and generalise one size fits all approach

Standardised clutter

  • “Gold spoon – who needs that?”
  • “A magnetic trophy with paper clips – it can destroy a hard drive in seconds”
  • “A kettle – the qualification criteria was too strict just to win a kettle”
  • “A video history of the company – not personalised, again focusing on the company and not focused on you”
  • “Bath salts, don’t have a bath and they smell awful”
  • “A daggy cap, it was pretty ugly and not really my thing. I couldn’t even give it away”

No recognition/reward at all, or just completely wrong

  • “Christmas Ham – I am a known vegetarian”
  • “Box of chocolates – I am a diabetic”
  • “Tickets to footy – don’t use them”
  • “Dinner at boss’ house”

Please take a moment to think about what employees (and family and friends) really want. An authentic gift that shows true appreciation will make the new years employee engagement so much easier.

What is the worst gift you ever received from your boss (or best if you want to tell someone how great they are)?

Reader Interactions


  1. I worked for an aged care organisation which bought a coffee mug (the ones you take in your car with you) with the company logo on it for all it’s employees…and this was after months of arguing at management level if anything would be bought at all!

  2. For a Christmas gift from a national import store, where my husband is employed, employees received a handful of leftover Halloween items that had been thrown in the clearance bin after Halloween and marked down to 90% off the day. Items included an eraser shaped as a bat, a drinking straw with a plastic ghost, edible creepy teeth and a 4″ long plastic rat. There was also a package of Halloween marshmallow cookies that had been expired. A Christmas card would have been more valued.

  3. My wife works for Fry’s Marketplace (Kroeger) in Arizona. I think it was last year that for Christmas she got a group picture of the store management!

  4. This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks for posting your content of employer worst gifts.

  5. The worst gift ever was a certificate for a white Oxford shirt ( I was a server at their restaurant). I had to drive clear across town only to find out that it was made of 100% cotton and was a mass of wrinkles when washed! Horrible gift!


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Naomi, Robert Half AU. Robert Half AU said: What's the worst gift you've received from your employer? RT @NaomiSimson: Employer Worst Gifts ever: […]

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