The holiday season is upon us, and it’s the perfect time to show your employees gratitude. While we often reserve heartfelt gifts for those closest to our hearts, giving your employees gifts is a meaningful way to nurture workplace relationships. After all, people may forget your words or your actions, but they will forever remember how you made them feel–and what better way to create meaningful connections than with a gift? And as an HR professional, you are in a unique position to help foster these connections.
However, there’s both a right and a wrong way to go about it, as the traditional corporate “thank you” can sometimes feel cold and generic. When your organization makes statements about how much your employees mean to you and then turns around and gives them meaningless gifts, it undermines the authenticity of these claims. Moreover, a corporate gift is an embodiment of your company’s values. But most companies fall victim to cheap plastic products that recipients may keep for mere months, if that, only further contributing to issues such as climate change and workers’ rights violations. As you prepare to wrap up the year, your gifts should resonate not just on a personal level, but also reflect your organization’s commitment to making the world a better place.
I built my company, Imani Collective on these premises: to provide artisan-made and sustainable–yet scalable–alternatives to traditional gifts. Every one of our products empowers local women in Kenya to help break the cycle of generational poverty by way of access to dignified employment and education. Today, 100% of our artisans live above the poverty line, 85% are able to send their kids to primary school, 59% have opened a bank account, and 34% now own their own land. Along the way, I took a deep dive into ethical sourcing, fair labor practices, environmental sustainability, and more.
A thoughtfully curated and socially responsible gift is the perfect way to increase morale among your team by showing them that your company cares not only about them but also about the rest of the world. Here are my tips to maximize the impact of your holiday gifting:
- Don’t fall victim to social washing. Social washing is a way for companies to appeal to customers who care about social causes without having to make meaningful changes in their business practices. Be wary of buzzwords such as social impact, ethically made, climate-friendly, and eco-conscious being used without substance. Companies should be able to back their claims with facts and an accountability process.
- Support artisans. When you buy from artisans, you not only get a unique and personalized product, but you also promote economic independence. Supporting local artisans fosters your own community while buying from global artisans can uplift marginalized communities and traditional crafts that are at risk of being lost to time.
- Give the gift of choice. The reality is that it’s impossible to find one thing that everyone will love. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, give your team a few different options they can choose from. This will go a long way towards giving them a gift they will keep for a lifetime.
- Champion a meaningful cause. Instead of, or in addition to a physical gift, consider donating to an organization(s) that your team is passionate about. Take the time to learn what causes resonate with them most and allow them to be part of the decision-making process.
- Prioritize intentionality. Share the thought process behind the gifts you give. If you choose an artisan product, tell your employees about the community it supports. Or maybe you noticed a team member talk about their favorite hobby, so you tailored your gift to their passion.
- Incorporate logos tastefully. While a company logo can create a sense of unity and pride, overly prominent branding makes a gift feel more like a promotional item than a heartfelt gesture. That’s why at Imani Collective, we offer both branded and white-label options that incorporate logos with discretion. We aim to provide products that simultaneously represent the company and maintain the integrity of our artisan-crafted items.
By opting for meaningful gifts, you can not only increase employee engagement but position your organization as a champion for global change. This holiday season, let’s prioritize intentional gift-giving over impersonal gifts that will further accentuate the global climate and income inequality crisis.