The Dos and Don’ts of Gifting in the Workplace

Today, the workplace culture is continuously changing — especially with so many employees working in the office, virtually, or a mix of the two. Moreover, you have multiple generations in the workplace at once, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z are all on the same video call or attending the same all-hands meeting.

With the holiday season already here, it can be difficult for any one of these generational people to decide what to gift their coworker. This difficulty especially holds if you’ve been peer pressured to participate in a company-wide game of White Elephant or Secret Santa. It can also be difficult if you’re gifting to a direct report who’s decades younger than you or vice versa.

Don’t worry though. We’ve got a wrap on this. Our workplace gift guide will help you decide which gifts you should purchase, whether they’re a casual deskmate, your workplace spouse, or even a direct report.

Below are the Dos and Don’ts of gift-giving in the workplace followed by an infographic and flowchart to help you decide the best gift for your coworkers.

Dos and Don’ts of Gifting in the Workplace

Do: Strive for Inclusion

Regardless of whether you’re an entry-level employee or the CEO, you should always aim for inclusion, especially when it comes to gifting in the office. For example, if you’re attending a gift exchange party or White Elephant party, bring a gift that is non-holiday-specific and can be gender-neutral. For instance, a candle, classic drinking glasses, office supplies, or tech gadgets are often a safe bet.

Moreover, if you’re running the holiday gift exchange, set a company-wide or individual spending budget beforehand. This way, no one feels awkward receiving too expensive or cheap of a gift and there isn’t major jealousy.

Do: Let’s Keep it Professional

Try to keep gifts professional. Even if you’re giving your work-spouse or best friend at work a gift, keep it classy. For example, unique whiskey glasses, useful desk accessories or a personalized mug are all good options, but don’t give something that’s too personal or expensive such as a luxury watch or jewelry. If you want to give a more private gift, do so outside of work.

Dos and Donts of Gifting in the Workplace

Don’t: Gift Near an Annual or Quarterly Performance Review

If you’re a director, manager, or really anyone that has direct reports under them, you shouldn’t give gifts around performance reviews. Gifts near performances can get awkward. Employees might feel resentful of the gift if they did not get a raise or bonus. Vice versa, as a lower-level employee, you should stray away from gifting hire-ups or managers close to reviews. The gift could be interpreted as a suck-up type move.

Since lots of reviews occur in Q4, you should gift at least two weeks before or after the review is scheduled to take place. If you’re a business and worried about overlap, then schedule reviews to happen in mid to late January.

Don’t: Overspend on Gifts

Again, you want to make sure that you’re not overspending on a gift. It’s awkward for other employees if you give a coworker something much more expensive than what others received. This often raises questions and chatter at the event or afterward. And nobody likes office politics or drama.

So, now you know the dos and don’ts of gifting in the workplace. If you’re having difficulty determining a gift for your close coworkers or simply a casual colleague, review the below infographic and flowchart from Redbubble.



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