The season of giving is upon us once again and it's always a chance for businesses to show their appreciation to employees and boost morale especially after the year-long grind. Unfortunately, many businesses approach employee gifts as something routine, causing them to miss out on making the most of what can be done with the effort. Some companies simply hand out gift cards thinking that employees would be better off buying what they want.

A well-thought-out gift-giving effort, however, could do wonders for everyone, whether it's coming from your boss or coworker. For example, the right gifts can be used to help employees develop good habits not just in the workplace but in their personal lives as well. A rather routine activity could become a strategic effort that transforms your organization for the better. 

Here are five such gifts that you can give that are both creative and office-appropriate.

#1 - MyHeritage DNA

Self-awareness is one of the key competencies valued in professionals since it allows you to maximize your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Building a comprehensive view of oneself also involves acknowledging and coming to terms with one's roots.

Genealogy platform MyHeritage offers a DNA test kit that allows you to know your origins and even pinpoint the geographic regions associated with your genetic data. Using the millions of historical records available on the platform, users could even search for previously unknown relatives.

Hopefully, knowing about your origins could inspire you to embrace diversity more. 

#2 - Gaiam Acupressure Mat

Many workplaces are now encouraging employees to engage health and wellness routines. Unfortunately, many fitness and health and wellness gifts like gym memberships and fitness equipment force recipients to engage in activities they may not be prepared for, and especially those with certain health conditions.

For a change, you can pick out health and wellness gifts that can be appreciated by your coworkers. For instance, take the Gaiam Acupressure Massage Mat--where you simply have to stand or walk on it to get an instant foot massage. It features a raised cobblestone pattern that stimulates the bottoms of the feet much like standing or walking on a pebble beach.*

Employees can place the mat near their desks, kick off their shoes, and use the mat and enjoy a quick break to rid the stresses away.

*dramatization for effect

#3 - Personalized Money Jars

Anything that stresses employees affects their productivity and nothing worries them more than financial troubles, which are among employees' top concerns. Many us, however, have a mindset that a bigger paycheck is the solution to their woes. But not all businesses, especially smaller operations, can afford to give employees raises across the board or pay them top-dollar. 

Companies can ease this burden is by encouraging employees to develop sound financial habits and one fun approach to capturing the philosophy of this is through a money jars. The physical nature of jars and the cash that goes into them allows people to literally compartmentalize their money for specific uses such as basic living expenses, leisure, savings, and student loan repayments. Having them see the jars fill up could also encourage them to save more. If that's not their cup of tea, just call it a swear jar -- those are always fun. 

#4 - Philips Wake-up Light

Unless your company wholly consists of perky morning people, you may observe a good number who have sour moods in the morning. It's likely because they weren't able to sleep or wake up well. Traditional alarm clocks jar you to consciousness which isn't exactly the best way to start the day right. Sunlight is supposedly the natural way people wake up. But, not everyone lives in a place where natural sunlight gets through the windows. 

Fortunately, nifty devices such as Philips Wake-up Light can mimic nature by simulating how sunlight works. The lamp gradually increases luminance in 30 minutes before your desired wake-up call until it fills the room with a bright yellow light. It also features natural sounds that significantly more relaxing compared to harsh beeps and rings. The lamp also aids you to sleep thanks to a sunset function where it dims to a relaxing glow.

#5 - E-Learning Courses

As a manager or colleague, the gift of continuing education truly shows you appreciate them. As an alternative to self-help books or monotonous training a company mandates, you can gift a colleague access to courses and classes instead. E-Learning platforms Udemy and MasterClass have options to gift their courses and you can choose from hundreds of possible courses which include topics in technology, business, soft skills and even special interest topics such as cooking, creativity, and sports.

Or, if a colleague has a budding business idea they want to pursue on the side,   Pitch Creator can help them learn how to effectively pitch investors & raise capital. 

You should also keep an eye out for classes and groups in your locality that offer such short courses that teach crafts or hobbies through classroom and face-to-face sessions. These could be ways to help your coworkers explore their interests and diversify their skills. 

Bonus: Personal Thank-you Notes

Surely employees would welcome well-meaning and practical gifts. But what would give the gifts more meaning are personalized thank-you letters. I've already touched upon how thank-you letters can have a deep, positive impact. So why not honestly express your appreciation for the work that your people do? A kind word can oftentimes be worth more to people than material tokens.

Take the time to write about what they mean to you and the company. If your co-workers and employees feel truly appreciated, they would also be more likely to reciprocate through loyalty and hard work.

And who wouldn't want grateful workers with good habits working with them?

Now that's a gift that keeps on giving.

Published on: Nov 15, 2018