With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, you're not alone if your mind is churning about what to buy your employees. Before you start ordering, though, remember that, more than ever, employees want memories instead of stuff. Gifting company Snappy hopes to help you deliver.

Snappy offers impressive experiential gifts like hot air balloon rides, global getaways, and jet skiing. If you still want to give something tangible instead of or on top of these gifts, the company uses online retailers to get you pretty much anything you want. Think trending gadgets like the Amazon Echo, Ninja blenders, drones, or even subscription services, all of which are consistently are Snappy's top performers. You can either opt for a pre-built collection, or you can build one from scratch. Either way, the idea is to go beyond "first impulse" gifts to something deeper.

But why exactly aren't the standard gifts cutting it anymore?

"Everyone seems to have become bored with the classic paperweights, pens, and plaques that have been an industry standard for decades," says Snappy CEO and co-founder Hani Goldstein. "And it makes sense, people want choice and more up-to-date items. That being said, even gift cards, which were sought by many to be the solution, are failing to be an effective recognition tool. There's over $44 Billion of unused gift cards that have been sold since 2008. People forget about them, regift them, or pay the bills with them instead of treating themselves. Moreover, putting a visible price tag on employees' "worth" lacks sentimental value and doesn't provide a thoughtful or meaningful experience."

Investing where it matters.

While some of Snappy's options admittedly aren't cheap ($1,000+), Snappy offers choices for as low as $15. The average gift price hovers around $80. That allows even smaller companies to take advantage of the service, and Goldstein says many companies work their way up to more robust programs after seeing the positive response to smaller pilot packages. There's also no commitment, so risk is relatively low.

"I think it is one of the best investments a business can make," Goldstein asserts. "Building a strong culture within your team is the foundation for anything your business is aiming to accomplish. According to studies, 66 percent of employees quit their jobs citing "lack of appreciation" as the main reason, and that ends up costing the business 33 percent of an employee's annual salary to hire a replacement. At the end of the day, when your team feels appreciated, they are more engaged in the growth of the business.

"Giving a small and thoughtful gift will create a much larger impact than adding that same value to the employee's annual salary. Just think of an employee that is earning $50,000: 
they will not care if their salary is increased to $50,100. However, when you give them a gift worth $100, they will feel acknowledged, motivated, and excited."

When? Any time.

While the holiday season is a good time to consider services like Snappy's, as Goldstein points out, top-performing companies with the strongest culture and happiest workers usually implement fully integrated engagement and recognition strategies throughout the year. Gifts on Mother's/Father's Day, employee recognition days, or even gifts during the onboarding process can go a long way toward telling employees you haven't forgotten about them, and that you're recognizing them out of genuine attention and respect rather than obligation. The tech industry is able to do this especially well, in part because tech companies tend to have larger rewards budgets.

This time, no regifts, no regrets.

So far, the response to Snappy has been overwhelmingly positive, with 20,000 five-star employee reviews and recipients keeping 99.5 percent of the gifts they get. That's pretty darn good considering about 53 percent of Americans get at least one holiday gift they don't want. We're also estimated to have wasted about $16 billion in 2017 on unwanted presents.

If you like Snappy's concept but you're not sure what your team would like, Goldstein says the best thing to do is go straight to the people the program is about. Just talk to the people on your team casually, to see what their interests and needs are. You also can look at what other top companies are doing and try to scale some of their strategies. The most important thing is to keep Goldstein's concept of "treating" at the front of your mind--consider experiences or items that people want but, for one reason or another, put off buying for themselves. As long as employees see a conscious effort to be thoughtful, you win.

Published on: Nov 12, 2018