The gift of Foresight
What you should know about gifting employees
Christmas may have come and gone; but the festive spirit still lingers. Our offices are new and fresh again in January, rejuvenated as much as we were by the rest and relaxation of the now-past holiday. And, besides, who said gift giving was confined to the end of the year?
When leaders give gifts, it’ essential they brief themselves with all the legal information at hand. Wolf of Wall Street may seem hilarious, but in reality, any executives who abuse their power in ‘donating’ clients gifts could be in for a visit from the feds. Speaking to Barry Ross, Director at Crossland Employment Solicitors, he explained the finer legal points: “The law in this area is set out in the Bribery Act 2010 and contrary to popular belief, it is still acceptable to give and receive gifts, but this is limited to specific circumstances.
“The UK Ministry of Justice guidance makes it clear that it is not the intention of the Bribery Act 2010 to prohibit hospitality, promotional or other business expenditure which is done with the intention of improving the image of a company, establishing business relationships or allowing a company to better demonstrate their products or services. This form of expenditure is a long established and important part of doing business. However, any such gift or hospitality must be transparent, proportionate, reasonable and bona fide in all circumstances. Crucially it must not place any obligation on the recipient or allow them to be subjected to undue influence because of receipt of the gift. The difficulty for companies arises in assessing where to draw the line in each case.”
It’s also essential to remember that when giving employees gifts, HR can be generous. If there is no question of bribery or conflict in the exchange, perks are a great way to incentivise your staff base. “There’s no limit on what an employee can give,” adds Jessica Hankers, Head of Sales, Virgin Incentives, “but anything costing more than £50 has a tax implication. Look at your company policy if you're unsure. It’s also important to think about any potential cultural or religious sensitivities. Experience Gift cards and vouchers work well when gifting a diverse workforce, offering a wide selection of activities and things to do for all ages and demographics.”
And it seems as if UK employees are extra generous at work, with a report from One4all Rewards revealing that almost half (49.3%) of UK employees have received some form of reward or incentive from an existing or new supplier to the company they work for. The most generous sectors are largely those in private sector organisations and those involved in competitive industries, where purchasing of materials and equipment is common. Manufacturing (68%) is the industry in which suppliers are rewarding staff the most, closely followed by utilities (67%) and information and communications (62%) sectors. Declan Byrne, Managing Director at One4all Rewards, comments: “There is a huge opportunity for companies in the UK to use business to business rewards and incentives - such as small gifts or invitations to events - to engage prospective clients, further build relationships with existing customers and encourage repeat custom.
There’s no one size fits all approach to giving gifts or incentives to employees – rather it’s a case of listening to your staff and responding accordingly. Gifts should be given dependant on age, gender, career and lifestyle; and only by asking staff what they want can you really use benefits to encourage them. As Hankers explains: “Employee gifting has dramatically changed over recent years from the carriage clock and watches to recognise long service to more experiential rewards like holidays and experience days. Brits want experiences not more ‘things’ they don’t need. And with such a vast range of experiences available, using them as a reward offers great opportunities to personalise your employee benefits programme. Cash bonuses are great, but generally get swallowed up in daily household expenditures and are soon forgotten. The memories associated with an experience gift, from learning a new skill, challenging yourself on a new adventure or enjoying a special meal out with family or friends, will last forever and staff associate those happy moments with their employee.”
So, remember, next time you go to give an employee a well-meaning gift, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Don’t just go through the motions; HR means more than that.