What Gifts Do Employees Want?

December 9, 2015

Posted by: Maggie Ashworth

What Gifts Do Employees Want?

As the holidays approach, you have likely put some thought into the gifts that you are giving to those that are important to you—including a significant other, children, family members and friends. While all of these people are an integral part of your personal life and personal success, what about those that are essential to the success of your business? Your employees. Before you jump the gun and think that it’s ridiculous to purchase gifts for everyone in your office, please know that I agree, and those aren’t the kinds of gifts I’m referring to.

Unlike the tangible presents that your kids will dive to rip the wrapping paper off of—the best gifts that you can give your employees don’t need any packaging at all. They should be intangible. 

A recent article from Harvard Business Review refers to these gifts as the “Me-to-We Continuum.” This authentic model addresses the realistic gifts and experiences that employees look for in a company, and it’s a refreshing change from the “Millenials need ping pong tables, and Baby Boomers require more structure” conversation that has been over-published and read by the masses.

The Me-to-We Continuum demonstrates that regardless of what decade your employees were born in, chances are high that in true human nature, everyone first views a career with a “me” outlook—focusing on the hopes that their own expectations and desires will be met in the workplace. Secondly comes the “we” viewpoint—which applies to the big picture of placing attention on issues and topics that are significant not just for themselves, but for others as well.

Me-To-We Continuum

HBR states that trust, enrichment, responsibility, community and contribution are the best gifts that employees can receive from their employers and ultimately, all of these focus areas make sense.

Trust: Chances are that if someone is in the workplace and striving to make a career for themselves, they want their employer to trust their work ethic. While this trust should be earned, an employer owes that person the opportunity to earn it. Constant micromanagement and criticism is never healthy—and when someone is spending 40+ hours of each week working to improve an aspect of your business, there’s a good chance that they are invested in the work that they are doing, and are striving to produce results that thrive. By trusting that this is what they are doing, and reaping the benefits of that work, it’s important to let your employees know that you value and appreciate the hard work that they are providing. Simple gratitude and appreciation will not only make them feel good about the results they are yielding—it also provides encouragement to continue to work hard and create high quality outcomes. 

Enrichment: Whether your employees have long been out of school or are recent graduates, they likely have the desire that their job will provide enhancement to their everyday activities, both inside and outside the workplace. While this type of enrichment will vary from person to person, it’s important for them to feel like they’re not just giving their all for a paycheck, but that they’re also receiving something, too. This gift of enrichment can come from various aspects, ranging from mentorships and encouragement to knowledge of a new skillset.

Responsibility: Just as you expect your employees to be responsible for their actions and decisions in the work place, they hope to gain the same from you. Everyone, and every company will make mistakes, but by showing your employees that you not only take responsibility for your successes, but your failures as well, you are leading and providing them with a strong example to do the same.

Community: These days, it’s not uncommon for co-workers to view themselves as a part of a work family within the office place. It’s a different kind of family than the ones they go home to at the end of the day, but it is a type of kinship that is firmly established by the way their team works together. That sense of community provides them with reassurance and inspiration in the work setting.

Contribution: In addition to the contributions that your employees make to your company, they also like to see the contributions that the company is making to the bigger picture. Whether your company provides a unique business solution to its customers, delivers an exceptional service to your clients, or is making headway in a new industry, everyone wants to know that they are making a difference some how, some way. If your employees are acutely aware that their contributions are an integral part of the company’s contributions, then they will likely gain the self-esteem and motivation to continue doing what they do best!

It is my hope that as you approach the New Year you will take some of these topics to heart. I guarantee that your team will appreciate it, and your business will reap new benefits.

Wishing the happiest of holidays to you and yours!

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