Elevate your employee gifting: Deliver never-ending value for your business

Posted on March 7, 2023 by Megan Goodfield

HR managers know that corporate gifts are much more than material tokens. They provide a creative way for companies to make their employees feel valued – helping to improve morale, increase retention and boost productivity. 

Corporate gifting is an effective tactic that’s long been employed by companies up and down the country. But since the pandemic, businesses have increased their gifting budgets significantly – which comes as no surprise to HR professionals. Employee morale is at an all-time low, so gifting budgets are at an all-time high. 

But as budgets have increased, so have expectations. HR managers are under mounting pressure to meet inflated performance forecasts, so they need to invest their gifting budget wisely, implement impactful initiatives, and deliver long-lasting returns for their company. 

As well as elevated business demands, employee expectations have increased, too. Staff are no longer content with a bottle of wine or box of chocolates from their employer at Christmas. They expect to be treated to thoughtful gifts regularly throughout the year – to reward performance, celebrate special occasions and ‘just because’.

Corporate gifting isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. So how can companies ensure their employee incentives meet rising expectations and deliver long-lasting impact? 

Impactful initiatives build lasting connections

To find out which employee gifts deliver the most value, we recently surveyed 1,000 members of the British public – across all ages and backgrounds. 

Our survey unearthed some interesting insights around employee gifting preferences and perceptions. 

  • The largest cohort of respondents (44.2%) said they’d prefer to receive a premium gift card over the equivalent amount in cash. 
  • 62.5% agreed that receiving a gift card for a premium brand would feel more like a ‘treat’ than receiving cash. 
  • 91.3% said they’d be more likely to remember receiving a gift card vs. money towards a future purchase. 

These insights tell a powerful story. 

Employees would prefer to receive a premium gift card over cash or discount, and are more likely to remember receiving it for longer. Why? Because receiving a premium gift card feels special, unique and unexpected – it’s a ‘treat’. 

Treating your team to a gift card is a much more personal gesture than dishing out cash bonuses or discount codes. Gift cards unlock a world of premium products and give staff the opportunity to choose exactly what they spend it on. Employees truly enjoy – and fondly remember – the entire shopping experience, helping to create lasting, emotional connections between you and your team. 

When asked about receiving an M&S Gift Card from their employer, 77.7% of respondents said they’d feel ‘truly valued’ or ‘thoughtfully rewarded’. Using M&S Gift Cards as part of your employee engagement initiative will ensure staff feel personally recognised and genuinely appreciated, helping to increase long-term motivation, engagement and productivity. 

Not all gift cards are created equal

Elevating your employee gifting not only makes employees feel appreciated, it can elevate your company by association, too. 

Partnering with a gifting supplier with a great reputation for quality, trust and sustainability can improve perceptions of your employer brand. Our survey found that 71% of people agree that if a company offered a gift card from a trusted, premium retailer it would positively impact their opinion of the company that gifted them.

But despite knowing this, many companies still partner with low-quality suppliers – creating associations that negatively impact employee engagement. 

To understand this contradiction further, we conducted interviews with HR managers across a range of UK industries. Interestingly, most of our interviewees acknowledged that offering cashback or functional vouchers to employees could be perceived as thoughtless, and even devalue the appreciation they’re trying to show their staff. But even with this knowledge, they still opted for low-quality options.

The majority of interviewees also agreed that opting for a low-quality supplier was an oversight, rather than a conscious decision. They hadn’t considered what type of gift their employees would truly prefer, and their subsequent engagement initiatives had – admittedly – fallen short.

Carefully considered gifts for any occasion

When asked about how M&S Gift Cards, in particular, would impact their employee engagement initiatives, the HR professionals we interviewed shared overwhelmingly positive views. 

One HR manager said, “I think an M&S Gift Card would go down really well with staff. Especially at Christmas time or on individual work anniversaries – any occasion where you want to show somebody appreciation.”

Another reported, “I think that if we offered M&S Gift Cards, our recipients would feel special. They’d be like, ‘Oh they’ve done something really special and luxurious for us. They’ve really thought about us and given us a unique treat.’” 

Everyone we spoke to – both gifters and giftees – agreed that M&S Gift Cards provide a genuine treat that recipients can enjoy spending on something truly special. They engender lasting emotional connections and positive brand associations, helping to increase long-term motivation, engagement and productivity.

To learn more about the never-ending impact of corporate gifts, read our exclusive report,  ‘Unforgettable impressions: What do your corporate gifts say about your brand’.