Author Topic: Staff and Christmas gifts  (Read 1715 times)

TheCatWhisperer

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Staff and Christmas gifts
« on: October 13, 2017, 06:33:56 PM »
I just read the post about the husband who gave his wife an Apple watch for her bday and it got me thinking about my own dilemma as we head into the holiday season. I have owned a small business for a year and employee 6 people. Last year, they all chipped in and got me an unexpected Christmas present. While I certainly appreciate the gesture, I don't feel like it's appropriate for them to be spending their money on me. Also, I dislike clutter and keep my own purchases to a minimum. As we approach the holidays, how can I say "no gifts for me" without seeming ungrateful? They receive gifts from me, but that seems like the natural order, not the other way around.

Step37

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Re: Staff and Christmas gifts
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2017, 08:25:15 PM »
Is one of the employees in a more managerial role? If so, and your relationship with this person is comfortable, maybe mention it to him/her. Say something like, “it was so kind of you guys to go out of your way for me last year, but I’m trying to think of how we could do something as a group. I don’t want there to be any precedent about anyone “having” to participate in this/it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.” It really depends on your relationship ... I’d feel the same as you. I don’t want more (non-consumable) stuff, but certainly wouldn’t want to seem ungrateful. I think suggesting a different direction could be a good compromise. “What I would like best would be for the food bank/animal shelter/whatever to benefit from your wonderful generosity instead of me. I really don’t need or want anything at all.”

My previous office (15 staff) did a gift exchange (we could choose to participate or not) where we bought a toy for the person that we thought they’d have enjoyed as a child. It had some funny moments. All of the toys were then donated to the local children’s hospital. Have the employees come up with a gift purchase limit they’re comfortable with.

You could still put a gift card into each of their Christmas cards if you want.

Noodle

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Re: Staff and Christmas gifts
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 10:38:34 PM »
Employees are not supposed to give gifts to the boss, so I would try my best to redirect them into a charitable gift. Sometimes charities have fun ways of designating giving, like the zoos that let you "adopt" an animal. I work with a group that had the custom of contributing to a nice gift for the organizer of one of their big annual projects. A few years ago, she asked them to give a book to the local library in her name. They enjoyed working with the librarian to find something appropriate to sponsor.

Astatine

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Re: Staff and Christmas gifts
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2017, 01:46:42 AM »
Ask A Manager (blog written by Allison Green) is very clear that the etiquette that gifts should only flow downwards not upwards because of the power differential between bosses and employees.

eg #1 in this https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2014/12/22/5-questions-about-office-gift-giving-answered

Is it possible to frame the discussion in your company as a workplace/etiquette culture thing? You could even quote Ask A Manager if you think that would help.

okits

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Re: Staff and Christmas gifts
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2017, 07:49:34 PM »
Possibly you can frame it as wanting to be sensitive to individual employee's circumstances?  There may be disparities in income, wealth, life expenses, number of dependents, etc.  I was once in a situation where some employees were high-earning with significant assets and some were low-earners trying to get out from under high-interest debt.  The well-off ones pressured the whole team to go in equal shares on a very expensive gift for the boss.  And it was the kind of place where the boss would play favourites, so even at 28% interest you were better off, in the long run, just coughing up.  (This thread was a nice reminder about what wasn't working for me at that office.  Stuff like that.)

Astatine - good link, thanks for sharing it.

Chesleygirl

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Re: Staff and Christmas gifts
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2017, 07:54:18 PM »
Possibly you can frame it as wanting to be sensitive to individual employee's circumstances?  There may be disparities in income, wealth, life expenses, number of dependents, etc.  I was once in a situation where some employees were high-earning with significant assets and some were low-earners trying to get out from under high-interest debt.  The well-off ones pressured the whole team to go in equal shares on a very expensive gift for the boss. 

Oh, that's not cool at all. And people being asked to pitch in 'x' amount can certainly resent it. I've been in the same situation.

Astatine

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Re: Staff and Christmas gifts
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2017, 07:59:47 PM »
Astatine - good link, thanks for sharing it.

:) I've just realised #4 at the link is much better for the OP as it gives a script for managers to tell their staff.

lbmustache

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Re: Staff and Christmas gifts
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2017, 08:57:35 PM »


My previous office (15 staff) did a gift exchange (we could choose to participate or not) where we bought a toy for the person that we thought they’d have enjoyed as a child. It had some funny moments. All of the toys were then donated to the local children’s hospital. Have the employees come up with a gift purchase limit they’re comfortable with.


That's a cute idea, I like it.

OP, maybe you could make an announcement or send out an email. Something about how you are genuinely grateful for the gifts you received last year but in the spirit of the holidays, rather than a gift to you, the office can do something together to really help those in need. Maybe even a little supply/toy/food drive for the animal shelter, kids, homeless shelter, etc. That way it's not ungrateful, it's just hey there are people/animals who need stuff more than me.


elaine amj

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Re: Staff and Christmas gifts
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2017, 10:30:34 PM »


My previous office (15 staff) did a gift exchange (we could choose to participate or not) where we bought a toy for the person that we thought they’d have enjoyed as a child. It had some funny moments. All of the toys were then donated to the local children’s hospital. Have the employees come up with a gift purchase limit they’re comfortable with.


That's a cute idea, I like it.

OP, maybe you could make an announcement or send out an email. Something about how you are genuinely grateful for the gifts you received last year but in the spirit of the holidays, rather than a gift to you, the office can do something together to really help those in need. Maybe even a little supply/toy/food drive for the animal shelter, kids, homeless shelter, etc. That way it's not ungrateful, it's just hey there are people/animals who need stuff more than me.
That's nice and diplomatic :)

Here at my office, it's become tradition to chip in $20 to buy the boss a bday present and another $20 to buy him a Christmas gift. He does enjoy receiving the gifts though so I guess it's worth it? If I happen to be out of the loop (like last year), sometimes I don't know what we got him until he opens it.

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Laura33

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Re: Staff and Christmas gifts
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2017, 07:51:41 AM »
What about diverting the desire to give gifts into something both fun and cheap/unpressured?  E.g., an office Secret Santa, a Yankee swap, or the like?  We have done the secret Santa thing, where people could choose to participate or not, and with a hard cap of $15; we do it over a pizza lunch in the office conference room -- but the idea was that they were funny/appropriate gifts vs. trying to do something seriously nice.  More recently, we changed it to the same idea, but the gifts went to a children's charity.  DH's office does a Yankee swap that turns into a multi-hour laughing fit, as everyone fights over something stupid (usually the liquor).  So everyone gives something, everyone gets something, everyone has a good time and gets to celebrate, but there's no financial pressure or awkward boss/staff dynamics.

And then you as boss could still give everyone a small bonus or gift card to show your appreciation for their work.