10 Simple Rules
It’s time for that annual set of nagging questions about holiday gifts at work…
If I give my boss a gift, will he or she think I am brown-nosing? How much should I spend? Should I leave the gift on the chair at night or ask the boss out for a holiday drink? Will my co-workers give a gift to me? What if they give me deodorant or foot powder? Should I wait to give any gifts until I am sure I am getting some gifts? Are the people who work for me expecting a gift more than a performance review? What is The Company policy on gifts? Should I ignore it? What if I give a gift to my boss but no gift comes from that direction? The list could go on and on.
Gift-giving during the holidays is hard enough when it is just for the family. When co-workers are added to the list it only adds to the complexity. I know some teenage boys who break up with their girlfriends every year in early December just to avoid the panic of having to buy a Christmas gift. Don’t quit your job just to avoid holiday giving at work.
In the spirit of taking some stress out of the holidays, the following ten simple bullets are sent your way.
· Companies will rarely execute a lay-off during the holidays. If you think your job will be eliminated in January, make it easy and don’t bother with gifts. The gift exception could be the consultant who is doing the plan on who stays and who goes.
· A lot of people today work in a virtual environment which means they don’t know or see co-workers or the boss. Virtual friends should be sent a virtual gift.
· Sending an email or text message doesn’t count as a gift.
· Be generous in giving. If your boss cut you breaks during the year or your team worked their butts off, get them something that reflects your appreciation. Take the risk and let people know you appreciated something. It matters.
· The list of acceptable gifts is short. The list includes books, candy, wine (usually), restaurant gift certificates and tasteful office items like expensive pens or notebooks.
· The list of unacceptable items is long. Don’t give shoes, jewelry or tire chains. Any gift with Victoria Secret in the name is probably not good. Anything personal is not good unless your spouse works with you.
· Among subordinates, include everyone and give everyone the same gift, even that guy in the next cube who talks to his mother all day while clipping his finger nails.
· Follow the company policy on gift giving. No exceptions.
· Never pass along a gift that someone else gave to you. The recipient always knows. It’s like reading a newspaper someone else already read. The exception is fruit cakes, which are like chain letters.
· If there are year-end Christmas cash bonuses expected, there are no substitutes in the form of gifts. A check is always better than a frozen turkey. If there is no check, no need to bother with the turkey.
Of course, there are variations on all of these themes. For example, if you are a hedge fund manager about to make twenty million at the end of the year even though the fund lost money, buy a Lamborghini for your right-out-of-school analyst. Most importantly, use the potential for holiday gift giving to develop friends and improve your relationships at work. It makes work more fun and maybe you’ll even get a raise out of it.