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30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

Discover thoughtful employee gift ideas that boost morale and appreciation at work. From personalized keepsakes to team-building experiences.
Written by: Penny Swift
employee gift ideas
Published: November 6, 2023
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Did you know that employers who give their employees gifts have higher company morale and employee retention than those who don’t? 

A recent study by the award-winning gifting company Snappy reveals the data. It states that 80.8% of employees agree that if employers celebrated their personal milestones, including birthdays, employee morale would increase. Nearly a quarter (74.5%) say that it would improve employee retention. Two out of three (67.5%) agreed that if they received a birthday gift from their employer their job satisfaction would likely improve.

stats for employee gifts

A 2022 holiday employee gifting study by Tremendous found that 75% of employees who get gifts from employers experience increased job satisfaction. 

So, what are you waiting for? Why not go shopping? But don’t panic. If you’re having trouble finding the perfect gift for your employees, help is at hand! After all, choosing the gifts to give them is far from a mundane HR responsibility. Instead, this presents a unique opportunity to boost morale and show your appreciation for the hard work they put in day in and day out. 

Whether it’s a birthday celebration, a work anniversary, or just a random act of kindness, this comprehensive guide to gifts for employees will equip you with plenty of inspiration for your office gift-giving tradition. And if you don’t have one yet, now’s a good time to start thinking about putting one in place. 

How to Find the Perfect Gift

Finding the perfect gift to show employee appreciation can be a challenging task. Ideally, a gift should reflect the recipient’s preferences and interests. The Emily Post Institute Inc., a trusted source of etiquette advice, suggests that gifts should also demonstrate an understanding of the unique relationship between the giver and the receiver. 

“A great gift can be hugely meaningful and something that both the giver and receiver remember for a long time.” Emily Post Institute

This advice is particularly apt when considering employee gift ideas. After all, it’s in the best interest of an employer to make their staff feel good. A well-chosen gift can accomplish just that — acknowledging employee contributions and making them feel valued and appreciated. 

Quantum Workplace research shows how important it is for employees to be recognized and engaged. Their Employee Engagement Trends 2023 report draws attention to the fact that organizations aren’t doing enough to “retain their best talent,” even though recognition is one of the key drivers of employee retention. More than half (53%) of employees said they weren’t recognized for the contributions they made to their organizations. At the same time, 54% of employees said they knew if they contributed to the success of the organization they would be recognized.  

The impact of employee engagement is also incredibly important. For example, the report shows that 90% of highly engaged employees intend to stay working at their current organization for the next year. Employees who have individual goals are twice as likely to be engaged at work.
And 92% of executives say engaged employees perform better. 

This adds another element to gifts. In addition to celebrating personal milestones, employers can also customize rewards by giving employee achievers gifts they appreciate. According to SHRM, employee recognition rewards work best when they are customized, timely, and fun. 

Understand Your Employees’ Preferences

Research shows that it pays to take a more personalized approach to employee gifts. Success in this area will take time and energy to understand your employees’ likes and dislikes, but it’ll be worth it.

For example, some employees might appreciate a trendy tech gadget like an AirPods case. Others will prefer a more experiential gift, like a cupcake decorating class from a top bakery or a subscription to a popular online wellness platform. Others might enjoy a gourmet treat, like a handpicked snack plus a coffee box from a custom corporate gift shop, or expensive top-of-the-range chocolates.

A survey quoted by SHRM found that the employees’ favorite awards for extra effort included these gifts for employees:

  • A meal out
  • Merchandise of various kinds
  • Experiential gifts like touring vineyards or workshops — pizza making was a favorite
  • Cash or gift cards

But they also found that the gifts and incentives that employees get don’t align with their preferences. Another survey shows that:

  • 66% of employees want bonuses – 28% receive them
  • 42% would like time off work – 15% get this reward
  • 41% prefer to get gift or prepaid cards – 20% get them
  • 33% want personalized emails or cards – 25% receive them
  • Only 19% like the idea of being singled out at a ceremony or company event – 27% get this form of recognition

Interestingly, more than 80% of respondents said that getting a prepaid or gift card would increase productivity and loyalty. 

employee gifts impact

The Tremendous survey found that money was the most desired gift and 66% said they’d be happy with $50-$100. But gifts like company t-shirts, turkey, or discount coupons left employees feeling unappreciated.

You don’t necessarily have to ask employees what they would like. Friends, family, and colleagues can be a good source of employee gift ideas that will be appreciated. 

Personalized Gifts and Their Impact

A personalized gift can have a significant impact on the way employees feel about their employer. When people receive a gift chosen specifically for them, they feel valued and appreciated. On the other hand, when they get a generic gift, they feel quite the opposite. 

Writing for Harvard Business Review, executive coach Rebecca Zucker agrees that gifts should be personalized but warns that they should be “too personal.” Employee gift ideas she suggests include donating to a charity, in the employee’s name, that they support. This will be meaningful and appreciated. Otherwise, consider a personalized notebook or a picture frame to go on their desk with their favorite photo. One of her favorite gifts was a box of pastries from a local French bakery from a colleague “Who knows that I’m a Francophile with a sweet tooth.” 

Another meaningful, personalized “gift” would be a handwritten note expressing your appreciation of employees. It’s a great opportunity to let people know you appreciate them.  

Gifts that will be too personal include clothing and jewelry. Gifts that are personalized for employees simply need to show them you know them well enough to choose something they would really enjoy.

Listen to your employees, assimilate their preferences, and you’ll be well on your way to choosing a gift that they’ll love. Being acknowledged never fails to make people feel good. So, whether it’s an emailable gift card, a popcorn kernel set, a gift that brings VIP treatment right to their doorstep, or a mailer box full of fun, make it a gift from the heart, personalized with thought and care.

How Much Should You Spend?

Interestingly, Snappy’s study looked at how much the average American believes it is appropriate for others to spend on gifts. Ultimately, it depends on the relationship and increases from $43.27 for a birthday gift from a close friend to $64.09 if it comes from their company. If the gift is coming from their boss, employees expect them to spend $58.90 on average.

Sticking with birthday gifts, the study results do a turnaround when it comes to what they believe they (the giver) should be spending. A significant other, they say, should be spending (probably at least) $76.93 while they only expect their boss to spend around $47.

Rebecca Zucker warns that lavish, expensive gifts can make some people feel uncomfortable. She quotes Lindsay Roberts, a gift-giving expert from The Gift Insider. Typical average prices for holiday gift options range from $25-$50. But in a large office, $12-$25 is usually appropriate. 

A 2022 study by Coresight Research shows that organizations are spending more on  “one-to-many corporate gifts” than they did in 2021. The biggest increase is with bigger spending. For example, 9% of gift buyers spent $5,000 in 2021 and 13% spent this amount in 2022. Interestingly, the difference between those spending $500-$1,000 in 2021 dropped from 22% to 17% in 2022. 

They also found that corporate gifting was no longer confined to the holidays. About 66% said they gave gifts to show appreciation and acknowledge employee milestones.

employee gifts show appreciation

30 Great Employee Gift Ideas

As we dig into the realms of so-called employer generosity, it is essential to remember that the best employee gift ideas are those that make people feel appreciated and valued. The importance of giving gifts cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to fostering positive relationships. Recognizing personal milestones like birthdays and significant work-related events undoubtedly increases employee motivation and engagement. But as we’ve already emphasized, gifts need to be relevant as well as meaningful. 

“Imagine contributing to a project that saves the company thousands of dollars a year and getting a company coffee mug, regardless of whether or not you actually drink coffee.” Alex Powell, U.S. director of client culture and engagement at Reward Gateway

Another caveat is to be sure that when you’re giving many gifts, you need to take care that you spend a similar amount on each employee. It’s not worth showing favoritism. That said, the same applies to gifts that celebrate milestones, birthdays, and so on. The easiest way to negate the real value of an employee gift is for others to start comparing it to theirs in terms of monetary value. 

Alison Green, The Cut’s workplace advice columnist groups gifts according to price. It’s an interesting exercise that shows the tremendous variety you have whether you want to spend less than $25 or up to $100. The options are endless. 

Another great option is to let employees choose their own gifts, which is something that Ashley Bell from the SnackNation Office suggests. There are also sites that let you set up your own custom corporate gift shop. 

Let’s explore some thoughtful employee gift ideas that are likely to inspire a welcome response – in no particular order.  

#1 Gift Cards

Varied research sources show that gift cards are the best option. Coresight says, “Gift cards are driving growth as experiences gain popularity.” They can be digital or physical. Either way, they dominate gifting categories. Tremendous says the same, although they take the idea a step further saying you could give cash instead or add it to their paycheck. Rebecca Zucker suggests gift cards for anything from a coffee shop, magazine subscription, or food. Ironically, gift cards can save the day, especially when you’re out of ideas or short on time. 

gift card

Consider a card for a unique experience, like a healthy cooking class, or a relaxation spa day. Alternatively, you could give your employees the option of a relaxing break with wellness retreat vouchers. These can be redeemed in various wellness centers and spas, providing rejuvenation and relaxation.

#2 Personalized Desk Accessories

From a custom mouse pad to a personalized cell phone stand, personalized desk accessories make great employee gift ideas that many employees will love. There are many online and on-site outlets that offer a wide array of customized accessories that are not only functional but can also add a personal touch to an employee’s workspace. Make your employees feel good every time they sit at their desks.

personalized desk accessories

#3 Stainless Steel Water Bottles

A high-quality stainless steel hydro flask may arguably be one of the best gifts to give. It’s a practical, long-lasting item that reminds them of your appreciation every time they hydrate. There are lots of manufacturers and outlets where you’ll find them. 

Stainless Steel Water Bottles

#4 Scented Candles

A beautifully scented candle can create a relaxing atmosphere in any workspace. What you need to consider is how long the candle will burn and the scent it will exude. There are so many different options, it’s great when you find a reputable source that’s done the research for you. Dorie Chevlen and Sarah Witman spent about 50 hours testing candles and the New York Times published their findings. 

Scented Candles for office

#5 Weekly Planner

Whether employees are working from home or in an office, a weekly planner is a fantastic way to help employees organize their tasks and manage their time effectively. You can find weekly and monthly planners in stationery stores or you can buy them from custom corporate gift shops (online or on-site) for that extra personalized touch. 

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#6 Office Chair Cushion

An office chair cushion can make a noticeable difference in an employee’s workday, helping to improve posture and provide comfort throughout the day. This could especially feel good for those who spend most of their day seated. But it does need to be a well-designed chair cushion that will make a difference and inspire employee appreciation. 

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#7 Healthy Snack Basket

An expertly curated gift box filled with healthy snacks is another great idea for gifts for employees. A snack plus coffee box is a popular choice from some suppliers. Typically, it offers a variety of gourmet treats that employees can enjoy during break times or whenever they feel the need for a quick energy boost.

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#8 Ultimate To-Go Container

For employees who often bring their lunch from home, a high-quality to-go container could be the perfect gift. Consider a container that keeps food at just the right temperature, so they can enjoy their meal as intended, even hours after packing it.

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#9 Green Thumb Gifts

For employees who love plants, a garden gift basket or a cool desk plant could make their day. It’s a great way to add a touch of nature to their workspace and improve air quality at the same time. If you opt for a pot plant for on-site employees, choose wisely. It needs to be a plant that will survive with minimal care, like a succulent or cactus.

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#10 Customized Company Logo Merchandise

Customized company logo merch such as shirts, mugs, or mouse pads can help foster a sense of belonging among your employees. Custom-tailored options can give employees a sense of pride and encourage them to represent your brand. Just remember what Alex Powell said… It may not be a meaningful gift for all employees. 

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#11 Portable Charger

A portable charger can be a lifesaver for employees who are always on the go. Look for one that’s compact yet powerful, and meets all the required safety standards. 

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#12 Unique Coffee Table Book

A unique coffee table book is an excellent gift for employees, providing inspiration, entertainment, or just a good read during their break. All online booksellers offer great coffee table book options. But it’s one of those employee gift ideas you’ll need to weigh up in terms of preference. It’s essential to get the topic right. 

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#13 Gifts for Remote Workers

Gifts tailored for hybrid employees can include an emailable gift card or a shippable experience gift like a cupcake decorating class from a local supplier. With remote work becoming more prevalent, these gifts are more relevant than ever.

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#14 DIY Gift Kits

DIY gift kits can be a fun and engaging gift for employees. There are a multitude of options from bath balm sets to kits that you can use for cooking or cleaning. If an employee is into home improvements, a hands-on DIY kit with some basic tools could inspire employee appreciation. Ultimately, you need to choose something that will provide a sense of achievement when the project is finished.

DIY Gift Kits

#15 Cold Brew Coffee Maker

For the coffee lovers in your team, a cold brew coffee maker could be the perfect gift. Not only does it produce a distinct flavor that many prefer, but it’s also a money-saver in the long run. The employees who get this gift will avoid the daily coffee shop runs and be able to brew their favorite drink at home or in the office.

cold brew coffee maker

#16 Stationery Set

A high-quality stationery set is a practical and usually appreciated gift for any employee. Consider a set that includes pens, notepads, and maybe even personalized stationery items for a special touch.

Stationery Set

#17 Artisanal Food and Wine

Hand-picked artisanal foods and wines are ingredients for a perfect employee gift. From a classic snack and wine pairing from a custom corporate gift shop to cheese from an award-winning dairy, you can’t go wrong with high-quality food and wine. That is, if the recipient likes both cheese and wine. That’s why it’s essential to do your homework before launching into gift-buying. 

Artisanal Food and Wine

#18 Team Building Experience

Consider giving a team-building experience as a gift. This might be a trip to an escape room, a cooking class, or a communal sports activity. These experiences foster teamwork and create lasting memories.

#19 Fitness Tracker

Healthy employees are happy employees. A fitness tracker is a great way for individuals to manage their health and wellness. There are plenty of options including the Fitbit, Apple Watch, and Garmin. There are also lots of generic brands that achieve the same result for a lower investment. 

Fitness Tracker

#20 Tech Gadgets

For your tech-savvy employees, consider tech gadgets like an AirPods case, a JBL Clip Speaker, or any other tech lover’s box. These could make day-to-day tasks easier and more enjoyable.

Tech Gadgets

#21 Subscription Box

Hiring a subscription box service for your employees could be another exciting gift. Depending on the service, employees can receive monthly wellness-related classes, gourmet meals, books, or a variety of other items. Choose wisely, taking individual preferences into account. 

Subscription Box

#22 Gourmet Coffee Beans

For coffee lovers, a selection of gourmet coffee beans from a well-known roaster will surely be appreciated. Whether they’re a fan of robust dark roasts or prefer a light, fruity profile, your employees will love the thought put into this gift. Just make sure you know their tastes. 

Gourmet Coffee Beans

#23 Personalized Art or Photography

Personalized art or photography is a thoughtful and meaningful gift that can brighten up an employee’s workspace. 

Personalized Photography

#24 Duffle Bags

If you have an employee who does yoga during lunch breaks or opts for a run, there are some amazing duffle bags that will carry towels and other bits and pieces.

Duffle Bag

# 25 Aromatherapy Diffuser

An aromatherapy diffuser with essential oils can support relaxation and wellness among your employees. A popular choice includes a mute button, so it can be used without any distracting noise.

Aromatherapy Diffuser

#26 Executive Desk Toys

From a stress-relieving foam roller to a desktop game, executive desk toys can add a touch of fun to a workspace, providing a much-needed break from continuous work. 

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#27 An Alarm Clock

You’ll have to be sensitive about this one, but if you have a valued employee who tends to be late for work, a high-tech alarm clock or wake-up light could be the best gift ever. 

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#28 Custom Puzzle or Board Game

Custom puzzles and board games are great for the office and at home. In the office, they offer employees the chance to take breaks and bond while promoting team interaction and spurring creativity — at the same time relieving stress.

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#29 A Gift to Encourage Laughter

We all need to laugh, especially when the going gets tough at work. Coffee mugs with funny messages work well. Rebecca Zucker suggests a notebook that encourages employees to make a list of things they won’t get to. This allows us “to laugh at ourselves while giving us something we’ll actually use.”

30 Thoughtful Employee Gift Ideas for 2024 to Raise Employee Morale

#30 Gift an Experience

There are a host of different ideas for experiential gifts, from movie tickets to restaurant vouchers. The important thing, though, is to be sure that you’re offering an experience that each employee will value. 

The Importance of Employee Gifts

Though often overlooked, employee gifts play an integral role in fostering a positive corporate culture. Unfortunately, when it comes to employee gift ideas, companies often fall into the trap of generic offerings that fail to leave a lasting impression. For example, many employers opt for items that display a company logo — a tee shirt for example. Others think that lunch with a senior executive is a great gift. 

The best gifts embody sentiment and thoughtfulness. 

The intention of any gift directs its choice. An employee holiday gift, for instance, can express gratitude for the year’s hard work. A garden gift basket from the Emily Post Institute might be an appropriate choice, coupled with a heartwarming, handwritten note. 

employee gift ideas are important

Creating a Culture of Employee Appreciation

“Recognition is not a scarce resource. You can’t use it up or run out of it.” This is a motivational quote from Susan M. Heathfield, an expert in HR. It illustrates that recognizing employees should be a continuous effort within any organization.

The enthusiastic team at Huggg illustrates how exchanging office gifts creates a friendly and positive relationship between bosses and their employees. When this exchange takes place, both parties show respect and appreciation for each other. As they say, the practice (or tradition) of giving gifts goes back to ancient times. It’s nothing new. 

They maintain that office gifts have the ability to release chemicals — dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin — into employees’ brains. These promote positive feelings and strengthen the relationship between employees and their employers. It also facilitates social bonding. 

Investing in employee communication software is one way to ensure that praise becomes a consistent practice in the workplace. Another crucial aspect of reinforcing a culture of appreciation involves tailoring recognition to individual employees. 

At the same time, tangible gifts are not the only way to show gratitude. Non-material gestures also matter. But gifts that make people feel special go a long way in enhancing job satisfaction.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of the specific gift you come up with, the main idea is to make employees feel valued and appreciated. A culture that encourages employee recognition serves not only to boost morale but also to bolster productivity, engagement, and loyalty. That’s a really good reason to consider making gifting a central part of your company’s operations.

As we’ve pointed out, there are numerous gift ideas out there. With careful consideration, you can find the perfect item that will make every single one of your employees feel valued and appreciated. 

What’s Next?

Engaging and communicating with employees is paramount. 

We’ve shown you how gifting your employees fits into engagement and communication strategies. So, if you’re looking to improve morale and increase employee retention, you’ll be highlighting gift-giving opportunities. Because we have a versatile, highly targeted platform, Cerkl Broadcast can help you develop a winning strategy that includes the benefits of giving gifts.  

FAQ

What gifts do employees really want?

Current research shows that gift cards are top of the list.

What do you get employees for Christmas?

Christmas and birthday gifts don’t differ. The important thing is to get each employee something that is meaningful to them.

What is the appropriate gift amount for employees?

It depends on various factors, but anything from $25 to $100.

How do you gift an employee?

You can gift an employee by selecting a thoughtful present that reflects their interests or the appreciation you have for their hard work and dedication. The item you choose will depend on the individual.

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