How Gift-giving Can Improve Workplace Health

Everyone likes receiving gifts, even if they’re small tokens of appreciation. In the workplace, employer gifting can lead to a happier, healthier overall environment with greater productivity. However, there are some important best practices to follow.

You might not know exactly what to get your employees to show your appreciation. Or, maybe you want to think outside of the box when it comes to unique items they’ll actually enjoy and use.

Thankfully, gift-giving doesn’t have to be complicated. When you approach it with the right mindset and understand how it can improve workplace health, it will be easier to offer practical, thoughtful gifts that will foster an environment of health and happiness.

Let’s dig a little deeper into how gift-giving can improve workplace health and cover some gift ideas for your employees.



Far too often, employers hand out gifts out of obligation because of holidays or special achievements. While you absolutely should give special occasion gifts, it’s also important to look at why giving them is important to the overall culture of your business.

Employee care is crucial to your business’ success. Happy employees are more likely to:

  • Stay with your company rather than look for jobs elsewhere;
  • Have more energy;
  • Commit more time to their tasks;
  • Be more productive.

Plus, your employees can essentially become brand ambassadors. When they love the workplace culture, they’re more likely to tell others about it. It’s word-of-mouth advertising that will get their friends and family interested in your business and might even serve as a recruitment tool to attract top talent.

Mental wellness in the workplace has always been important, but it’s gotten more attention since the COVID-19 pandemic. There is often a direct connection between your job and your mental well-being, and workplace stress is high across the country. Employees who are unhappy, stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious are less likely to stay engaged while they’re working. Not only will those feelings take a toll on their productivity, but they can also start to have a negative impact on their personal lives.

While giving gifts is a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to reducing stress, it’s a meaningful one. Sometimes, all it takes is a sign of appreciation and care to make an employee feel more valued and less overwhelmed.

How Do Gifts Impact Employee Health?



Once you understand the importance of mental health in the workplace, you can start to look at why gifts are important. Again, they’re only a small part of what should be a large and elaborate positive culture. But, workplace gifts are essentially symbols within your company culture. They represent appreciation, reward, and appraisal.

When it comes to gifts directly impacting employee health, they can increase happiness and well-being, boost job satisfaction, and reduce stress. Even the simplest gifts can help to create a sort of snowball effect in the workplace. If an employee receives a gift and feels appreciated, they’re more likely to engage within the company. That can help with feelings of isolation at work. It will reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, foster an environment of transparency, and even help your team enjoy coming into the office each day.

The benefits go even further if you choose to invest a bit of time into learning about what your employees would really want or need. When someone gets a thoughtful gift, they’re more likely to feel understood, heard, and cared for.

Many people believe that when someone receives a gift, they’re also more inspired to pay it forward. You might motivate your employees to help others in the workplace or even pass on a gift of their own to someone else.

Finally, don’t forget to consider your own mental well-being. If you’re the owner or manager of a company, you have a lot on your shoulders. Gift-giving can be a great way for you to alleviate stress. When you offer someone a gift, no matter how small, it triggers the pleasure circuits in your brain and helps to release more serotonin. You feel happier when you’re giving someone something you know they’ll appreciate. The release of that hormone promotes tranquility and peace and can make it easier to manage stress and anxiety in the workplace.

What Should You Give Your Employees?



So, you understand the benefits of gift-giving, but what should you actually give to your team? There’s no one right answer, and you can always go with standard or “safe” options. Everyone loves a gift card, after all. Nowadays, a quick search online will lead you to a variety of options, from popcorn tins to coffee subscriptions, and everything in between. These are all great ideas, and most people would love to receive anything. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

However, if you take the time to really consider what your team might want and appreciate, your gift will really go the extra mile.

The easiest way to do that is to get to know the people who work for you. Having open communication throughout the office is a wonderful way to learn about the interests, hobbies, and needs of your employees. It can also boost overall morale and mental health, showing your team that you appreciate them and have an interest in their lives. When you have a better idea of how they could benefit from a gift, it will be much easier to choose something practical.

Prioritize Wellness Gifts

Group of jogging treadmill at sport gym

While gift cards and popcorn buckets will never go out of style, you can really attempt to improve workplace health by offering employee wellness gifts. Doing so can improve the mental and physical health of your team, boost productivity, and potentially reduce the number of sick days people have to take.

Wellness gifts can range from houseplants meant to improve air quality to memberships to a local gym to encourage better physical fitness efforts. You might even consider starting a wellness program within the workplace that offers gifts and perks like free gym memberships or even create an onsite gym if you have the space. Swap out traditional vending machines for ones that offer healthy snacks and pre-made meals. Or, fill your break room with grab-and-go fruits, vegetables, and high-protein snacks. If you have the budget for it, consider having a healthy lunch catered for your employees once a week. It’ll take some of the financial burden away from them having to bring their own food, and you can provide food that will nourish their minds and bodies.

In addition to physical health, you can offer wellness gifts that focus on the mental well-being of your team. Things like journals, yoga mats, and essential oils are all great gifts that can encourage your team members to relax and de-stress. If you want to encourage them to take charge of their mental well-being away from the office, hand out gift certificates to local day spas or yoga studios. You can even go the extra mile by partnering with area mental health professionals and encouraging your team to work with therapists or counselors if they’re struggling or just need an outlet.

When you prioritize an environment of mental health, it’s less likely to be stigmatized. This is especially important in high-stress businesses or professional settings. Far too often, professionals go without mental health treatment or the support they deserve because of the stigma associated with mental health conditions. By encouraging mental wellness through various gifts and benefits, you can break down those barriers and start to get rid of that stigma within your industry.

Sometimes, a gift doesn’t have to be tangible to be effective and important. One of the best ways to fight back against workplace stress is to encourage a healthier work-life balance. Give your employees more frequent breaks. Make sure they’re only working at specific times each day, and aren’t taking work home with them. Offer more flexibility and even the option to work remotely. It’s essential for people to have social lives, and it can do wonders for workplace morale. Nowadays, remote work is more common and popular than ever. If it makes sense for certain members of your team to be able to work from home, don’t hesitate to offer it as a way to show your trust and appreciation.

Don’t Wait for Special Occasions

Young bearded man wearing birthday cap getting pleasant gift

Most employers hand out employee appreciation gifts on holidays, on birthdays, or for company milestones. Those are great practices that shouldn’t be stopped. They give your team members something to look forward to and something to expect, especially if you typically provide some kind of financial bonus or gift card. That, alone, can be beneficial to their mental health. As a good rule of thumb, if you start that practice around holidays and milestones, don’t stop it suddenly. No one wants to be left in a situation like Chevy Chase in “Christmas Vacation” — expecting a major bonus only to be let down. It might be funny on the silver screen, but in these tumultuous economic times, it’s no laughing matter.

However, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to offer gifts of appreciation and gratitude. Instead, focus on creating a culture of recognition year-round. Employee recognition can go a long way in improving the overall environment of the workplace and the well-being of your team. It starts with things like gift-giving and setting an example. You might be surprised by how quickly your employees start recognizing and congratulating each other’s efforts, too.

Creating a culture that focuses on recognition can help employees see their worth and value within the company. It lets them know there is an opportunity for growth and greater success. It also helps to foster a sense of security. When employees feel secure in their position and not at risk of being let go or demoted, they’re more likely to feel better and put their best foot forward. Finally, when an employee feels like a company truly values them, they’re more likely to value the company in return. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Employee recognition doesn’t need to have a calendar. By making it a part of your company culture all year, you’ll have happier, more satisfied employees who understand their value. That’s something that will not only improve health in the workplace but can boost their confidence, self-esteem, and well-being in their personal lives, too.

Best Practices for Gift-giving

Gift box in female hands and laptop, online Christmas shopping concept.

When it comes to corporate giving, knowing how to approach your employees the right way is important. Consider talking to your HR department about what gifts are appropriate and what can be said and done to show your employees how much they’re valued.

If you really want to reward your team, you might consider offering them larger gifts, whether that’s a big-ticket item or a financial bonus. Those can be wonderful options up front. However, it’s important to consider the tax implications of larger gifts. The last thing you want is to give your team something only for them to be taxed on it later.

To avoid those issues, first consider the value of the gift you’re giving. Things like cash bonuses and even gift cards can be considered taxable income. To avoid this issue, choose gifts that have a low fair market value, and make sure you aren’t giving out thousand-dollar bonuses to the same employee frequently.

Or, consider giving a gift your employees will appreciate without a high monetary value. Things like extra paid vacation time won’t cause your employees to experience a tax hike, but they’ll enjoy the freedom, flexibility, and relaxation it provides.

If you’re confused about what might end up causing tax headaches, work with your team’s financial department or hire an accountant to help you make the most practical gift choices. As you can see, gift-giving is a fantastic way to improve mental and physical health in the workplace. Whether you go for standard items like gift cards or company swag or offer big-ticket items for your hardworking team, don’t wait until the next holiday or major event to show your employees how much they’re appreciated and valued. Your gesture, kindness, and gratitude will go a long way.

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