Organisations that offer employee incentives, particularly during the festive period, are more likely to retain talented people and boost morale.

That’s a fact we have heard many times, but what companies can struggle with is choosing the right gift for their employees. We all have different tastes and preferences and a reward that excites one person can leave someone else cold.

The temptation can be to choose something flashy and exciting, but selecting something more practical and heartfelt can have a more positive effect.

People want to feel appreciated in their work so a personalised gift can make someone feel valued. If the item is actually useful, even better. For instance, for a more high-value item, like an iPad, you can add that personal touch by coupling it with something like a personalised leather case. Not only will the employee feel appreciated, but if you include your company logo, there’s the added benefit of brand exposure when the gift is used away from the office.


Gifting is a great way to thank staff without spending a lot of money and it is a way to convey a positive New Year message. This is particularly important if the business is looking to make some dramatic commercial decisions in 2016 and it needs everyone on board and engaged.

With many options to choose from, including vouchers and gift experience days, champagne and fine foods, my final piece of advice relates to longevity.

Select something that has continued worth, both for the employer and employee. Champagne, branded or not, will quickly end up in the bin, while something like a personalised diary will be used all year around.

There’s also the need to select a gift that won’t be resented. An employee may consider something of high value a waste of money. This could lead to disgruntled staff, particularly if wages have been frozen or budgets cut. A lot to think about, but if handled correctly, rewards can have a positive impact on staff morale and performance. Each employer just needs to think carefully about what gifts will be valued and appreciated. If you are unsure, why not just ask your staff.

Steve Hemsley is a freelance journalist who writes extensively on marketing and employee issues and is founder of employee confidence training company Hendrix.