How do your employees feel about your corporate gifting?

Posted on March 14, 2023 by Megan Goodfield

When it comes to employee satisfaction, gift-giving is key. Even a small gesture of appreciation can significantly improve productivity and ensure staff feel genuinely valued. 

But more than being tokens of gratitude, the gifts you give are a tangible representation of what your company stands for. So ask yourself: What message are your gifts sending to staff? Do you treat your teams to high-quality products or sub-standard items? And how do your employees feel about the gifts they receive? 

Quality and price aren’t the only factors to consider when sourcing employee gifts. Sustainability is high on every business’s corporate agenda – and front-of-mind for most employees, too. In today’s increasingly environmentally conscious society, it’s generally presumed that most people would prefer responsibly sourced, sustainable goods. But do staff really care about where their gifts come from? Or is receiving something-for-nothing enough to engender warm, fuzzy feelings about the company that gifted them? 

To discover what type of incentives employees prefer, and which make them feel most positively about their employer, we conducted an independent survey of 1,000 UK residents – across all age groups and backgrounds. The survey revealed some interesting insights. 

The expansion of eco-wakening

Sustainability is no longer the chief concern of Gen Z alone. According to a report by Deloitte, sustainability awareness has increased significantly over the last few years, and UK adults across all age groups are taking definitive action to live more sustainably – from limiting single-use plastics to avoiding brands with poor working or sustainability practices. 

Employees are making an effort at home – and they expect their employers to follow suit when sourcing gifts. 

Our survey found that 70% of people would prefer to receive a gift card from a retailer with a good reputation for sustainability and responsible working practices. This preference is even more pronounced in the younger generations. 83.3% of 18–24-year-olds and 83.6% of 25–34-year-olds say they’d prefer to receive a gift card from a brand with a good reputation for sustainability (compared to 58.2% of people aged 65-plus).

Sourcing gifts from a trusted supplier will help you create positive connections with all staff, but it’ll go down especially well with those aged between 18–34 – the people primed to become the future leaders of your business. 

The halo effect 

Giving responsibly sourced gifts not only shows staff that you’ve considered their preferences. It demonstrates that you care about the environment, working conditions and society at large, and can reflect positively on your own brand. This social-psychological phenomenon is called the halo effect – when perceptions of a company are positively impacted by its brand partnerships

The halo effect can be achieved through employee gifting: a company treats its employees to gifts from a well-regarded brand, and – ta-daa! – perceptions of the company are elevated as a result. 

Our survey showcases the halo effect in action. Out of 1,000 people surveyed, 64.1% agree that if a company offered a gift card from a brand with strong sustainability values and responsible working practices, it would positively impact their opinion of the company. 

When an employer associates itself with a brand renowned for its corporate values, perceptions of the employer brand are uplifted, too. And not just in one area, but across the board. 

The gifting supplier may be renowned for its unimpeachable working practices, for example, but by partnering with them, the employer will not only improve perceptions of their own sustainability and working practices, but perceptions of every aspect of their company values. The halo effect is a powerful marketing tactic employers can use to strengthen their own company values and positively bolster their internal image. 

The horn effect

The horn effect is the counterpoint to the halo effect’s positive perceptions. It’s another  social-psychological phenomenon that occurs when a company enters into a misguided partnership with a supplier with a poor reputation. The single negative partnership can taint employee perceptions across all areas of the business.

An example: Take that 83% of 18–34-year-olds who say they’d prefer to receive a gift card from a retailer with a good reputation for sustainability and responsible working practices. If their employer offers them a gift card from a retailer that’s notoriously poor in those areas, their perception of the employer is going to be negatively impacted. It’s guilt by association.  

It’s clear, then, that choosing a brand partnership for corporate gifting requires some careful consideration. Choose wisely, and perceptions of your employer brand get a nice little uplift. Make the wrong choice and, no matter how enticing the gifts themselves, your brand is going to take a knock. 

Employee gifts have the power to create connections, convey appreciation and change perceptions.

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’.