The winter holidays are over and your employees are straggling back to the office, clad in garish new sweaters, fumbling with new e-readers—and in a quite a few instances, nursing a bad case of spenders’ remorse. You may feel some of that remorse yourself, as you reflect on how few employees seemed really to like getting figgie pudding from you again this year, or as you have second thoughts about the generous cash bonuses you handed out in a fit of foolish optimism that Washington would dodge the fiscal cliff.
So, I have a suggestion for your next holiday: Give gift cards. Your employees will appreciate them at least as much as figgie pudding, and dollar for dollar, you can sow more good will than you would with a cash bonus. Full disclosure: My company, Card Hub, runs an online gift card exchange among other things, so I am, frankly, prejudiced in favor of them. But if you decide to give plastic, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. That’s the point of thinking about this now.
How to get more gift for the buck
The single best way to save on gift cards is to buy them on the secondary market. Gift cards have been the most popular type of holiday present for six consecutive years, yet roughly $41 billion worth of buying power went unused from 2005 to 2011 and another $2 billion won’t be redeemed in 2012, according to TowerGroup data. That obviously works out great for Card Hub’s exchange, but it can also be good for you. You can buy gift cards at discounts of up to 80% on exchanges and present them to employees and clients without the recipients being any the wiser.
If you go with gift cards, do it right
To maximize your savings, you should:
Obviously, it’s too late now to take advantage of gift cards for the 2012 giving season. But as word filters back to you that your employees were less than thrilled by those cute coffee mugs with the heat-activated picture of you and your dog, you might give gift cards some thought for next year. That said, I’ll leave it to you. Happy New Year, and may 2013 be filled with savings and business success.