‘Tis the season for gift giving. Yet human resources specialists may dread this time of year, as the topic of sending and receiving gifts in the corporate world brings up a number of ethical challenges. Is it ok for your biggest client to send you a popcorn tin? Should your favorite vendor send an employee a large gift certificate to a fancy restaurant? And what about coworker gifts or an office gift exchange?
It is important to have a clear and concise gift policy that is well documented and clearly communicated to employees. Some companies also regularly communicate an abbreviated version of their gift policy outside of the office to clients, vendors and others during the holiday season, too. Whether you are outlining guidelines for accepting gifts from vendors, clients and suppliers or detailing your own, internal, employee gifting policy, it is important to have detailed rules in place.
For some companies, the policy is very plain: no gifts of any kind at all. This includes physical items, discounts or other perks offered by vendors, clients, potential employees, potential vendors or clients or any other contacts. A “no gifts of any kind’ policy is very easy and simple, but most companies do not follow this practice. Instead, many companies have a thorough and detailed gift policy that provides guidelines for internal gifting and external gifting, too.
Your HR team and company leadership should work together to outline a gift policy that fits your corporate culture and meets the wants and needs of your employees and those that you serve. Gift policies should cover both internal gifts giving (think office gift exchanges, gifts between supervisors and employees, and gifts among individual employees) as well as gifts from your company or employees to customers and vendors and gifts to your company or employees from customers, vendors and others. Guidelines may include dollar limits for gifts, may require certain gifts received to be shared within the office or donated to charity or may prohibit gift giving in certain situations.
If your employees have historically exchanged gifts or organized an office group gift exchange, it is wise to listen to the preferences of the employees regarding continuing the tradition. But if the exchanges are allowed, astute HR departments will provide guidelines for such gift giving in order to avoid problems and concerns.
Terms for giving and receiving:
Some gift giving policies state that employee gift exchanges should be organized and arranged by employees – not the employer – to avoid any conflict of interest. And in order to avoid jealousy or other problems, some state that employee gifts from vendors and customers are considered shared gifts that can be enjoyed by multiple members of the office staff. Many companies place a dollar value limit on gifts and require employees to return gifts that are above a certain threshold.
There is no one-size-fits-all policy when it comes to corporate gifts. Gift giving can help to establish and enhance corporate and personal relationships. A carefully-crafted gift policy will allow your employees the freedom to give and receive gifts in a way that best suits your corporate culture while reflecting the preferences of your staff. And gift giving can be a cost-effective way to recognize a job well done. A clear and detailed gift policy will allow for appropriate gifting and will help you avoid a conflict of interest and the appearance of impropriety. And a gift policy will help your employees keep company ethics top of mind while demonstrating equal treatment, unbiased professionalism and non-discriminatory actions.
Do you need help crafting or revising a corporate gift giving policy your organization? Contact the experts at Wild Coffee HR today. We love partnering with companies to help them thrive. It’s what we do.