The holidays should be a time of bliss and celebration. However, this often isn’t the case when the stress of deciding if coworkers will make it on your holiday shopping list sets in.
So, as you make that list, check it twice, and consider these key points before you find yourself in an uncomfortable workplace gift exchange.
The company gift-giving policy
Almost every large company has one, and it isn’t just company clients and outside business partners. It also applies to gifts given between employees. While many companies allow for gifts to be given below a certain dollar amount, make sure to look for this policy or contact Human Resources before purchasing any gifts or organizing a gift-exchange.
Reasons for giving
While all gifts should be exchanged in the spirit of the holidays, some people may have ulterior motives. If you have recently begun negotiations for a raise or promotion, you will want to steer clear of buying managers anything that seems to be trying to influence their decisions. Typically, the flow of gifts should always be downward, not upward within a company.
This is especially important if you are new to the company. Did people start talking about the annual gift exchange before Thanksgiving? Or have you already received an invite to the holiday team lunch?
Among a survey of U.S. workers, 45 percent say they give their office peers a gift during the holiday season, and 56 percent spend more than $20 doing so.
It’s important to use your best judgment to determine the office norm and if you need to, ask a co-worker to confirm your suspicions.
If your company does allow for gifts to be exchanged, make sure everyone on the team is included. A great way to do this is by offering an opt-in vs opt-out gift exchange. This way everyone is invited, but not everyone has to choose to participate. This is mindful of employees who may be experiencing a financial hardship that won’t allow for unnecessary purchases this holiday season.
With all things considered, remember that gift giving at work is a company specific characteristic and the best place to look to find answers to your questions may be internal. Who knows, the coworker sitting three cubicles down playing Christmas music in October and the coworker next to him whose personality closely resembles the Grinch, may actually be in agreement on a policy like this one.