Employees are the backbone of any business, from small companies producing just a few products or services all the way up through huge enterprises with global reaches.
And employee morale and satisfaction result in greater loyalty and productivity. While much of employee satisfaction comes from good salaries and benefits, there are non-monetary activities that enhance that further – public praise, great performance reviews, and, yes, gifts that show appreciation - better known as employee swag.
There are plenty of mundane swag gifts – coffee mugs, pens, T-shirts – that are nice but certainly not exciting or demonstrating any type of special appreciation. Add to this the fact that many more employees are working remotely, and delivering quality swag is even more challenging.
So, how do you make employee swag special? Here are five methods to think about.
1. Packages with Wrapped “Mystery” Gifts
Receiving a package, perhaps in a cool wooden box, that contains individually-wrapped items can be a delight. Such items can include some of the rather common gifts – water bottles, mouse pads, etc. – but also some more unique items. These might include reusable tote bags, a car clip for a cell phone, a desk-top organizer for frequently misplaced items such as keys, portable phone chargers, and such. Each gift, as unwrapped, will be a unique and useful surprise.
Making this a standard swag gift for each new employee is a great way to say, “We’re glad you’re here!”
2. Durable Products are Appreciated and Welcome
Among the items listed above, there are other durable products that will be long-lasting. These include some common items, such as water bottles, high-quality clothing, but can also include less common items. For employees in cold-weather climates, a nice pair of gloves; for employees in most climates, umbrellas or packaged ponchos; even foldable windshield visors might be appreciated in hot sunny areas. Socks are often ignored as a swag gift but should not be. Heavy sock/slipper combinations in cold climates are perfect swag; water shoes for employees living in warm and/or beach climate areas are unique but useful and durable.
Get creative here. Think about products that have “staying” power and that employees will find useful throughout longer periods of time.
Because costs are low on these items, team leaders who know their employees, especially in remote work situations, should make these small gifts on a semi-annual basis.
3. Splurging During Special Times is a Must
Your valued and loyal employees work hard for you all year. Major and even minor holidays are cause for celebration with higher-end swag. Remember this: All of your employees may not be Christian, but they do have religious holidays that should be recognized. Having this personal information is important. During their holidays, they should receive higher-end swag gifts, some of which might last for longer periods of time. Here are some great ideas you might consider:
- A year-long monthly subscription to gourmet coffees for those you know are caffeine aficionados.
- A coveted tech item – a high-end set of earbuds, for example
- A quality briefcase or laptop case
- A high-quality fleece Sherpa blanket for those living in cold climates
- A specialized kit for down-time relaxation – a large box of chocolates, candles, dried fruit, bath salts, and additional items based upon specific employees.
And never forget birthdays – special gifts, even small ones, make them feel especially valued. A gift that is accompanied by a humorous poem or creatively written message only strengthens that personal connection. Many companies use the services of writing companies, such as Trust My Paper, that have creative writing departments to craft just the right messages.
4. Focus on Useful/Delightful, Not Promotion, to Reward Achievements
Most company swag is promotional – T-shirts, hats, pens, water bottles, mugs – all of which bear the company logo and provide advertisement for the brand. These are fine and provide a purpose, but they do not provide value to the employee. As you consider employee swag, consider what brings value to that individual, not just to your brand. When you distribute swag that only promotes a brand, employees do not feel personally valued.
One thing that you can do to demonstrate the value you attribute to your employees is to provide choices of swag that they will see as real appreciation, which is to provide options for swag gifts. For example, you might offer options, such as the following:
- Tickets to a sporting event
- Tickets to a concert
- Gift cards to local restaurants
- A weekend getaway
These items would be totally appropriate when either the entire team completes a particularly tough project, or when an individual team member has gone well beyond the expected, has come up with a “game changing” solution, or has put in an inordinate number of hours and effort.
5. Personalize Employee Swag
This, of course, requires that you know your employees personally, and you should. What are those employees’ interests, hobbies, or needs? Based upon this information, you can design employee swag that will clearly state that they are valued as individuals.
- For the outdoors employee, camping equipment, fishing gear, outdoor cooking equipment/tools, and such will be highly welcomed
- For the more introverted loner, subscriptions to favored magazines or journals are always a hit
- For that single employee, a few months of a meal delivery subscription may be the perfect gift
- For the fitness buff, tech gear such as a fit bit, headphones, or even a few months’ gym membership will be ideal.
- For those who love games, both on and offline, create a box of items, including a new game for a system they have of popular off-line games – there are loads of them on the market now.
And each of these gifts should be accompanied by a creatively written note, such as one that can be crafted by the creative writing team at Supreme Dissertations.
These are perfect gifts when employees reach certain milestones, such as a five or ten-year anniversary with the company.
Employee Swag Cannot Be a Trivial Pursuit
Employees work hard for you. They produce; they meet deadlines; they often give up free time to complete projects and make themselves available during non-work hours to provide additional work and assistance. In short, they commit themselves to meeting organizational goals and objectives and show initiative when necessary. For all of these things, they receive a paycheck and benefits from the organization.
Beyond that, special appreciation must be shown. These are the “extras” that keep employees motivated, make them feel appreciated, and spur them on to contribute even more to the organization. This is the purpose of employee swag – the chance for an organization to demonstrate how much it truly values all that its employees contribute to their success.
Employee swag must be valuable, useful, somewhat unique, and personalized as much as possible. Make certain that you are using these five methods of showing genuine appreciation.
About the Author
Nicole Garrison is a content strategist, writer, and contributor on a number of platforms for marketing specialists. She is a dedicated and experienced author who pays particular attention to quality research. Moreover, she runs her own blog LiveInspiredMagazine.