DR. E. CAROL WEBSTER’S
HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2005
‘Tis the season to be jolly and to exchange gifts at work, but not all employees are thrilled about this practice. Grab bag gift giving rituals can be particularly galling. Your staff may feel put upon and obligated to shop for someone they don’t know very well and may not even like. The ‘spirit of giving’ feels contrived for many. Typically, these are not self-absorbed, stingy people who just don’t want to give a gift to someone else. They simply don’t feel anything for the individuals involved or for the process and, thus, experience great stress, resentment, and often financial hardship as they make an earnest effort to come up with a present that won’t make them feel embarrassed or like a cheap-skate during the unwrapping ritual. Even when a monetary cap is put on the cost of gifts, there is a competitive spirit that persists as each employee vies to have his or hers be viewed as “best”. This type of stress is to be expected this time of year when shopping for friends and family that people care about. But there can be high stress in work situations too because of the additional worries about how their gift will be perceived – by their coworkers – by you, their boss – by the manager they hope to get to work for next year
Do-It-Yourself Gift Giving Practices Can Reinforce Feelings of Employee Undervaluation
Employee-driven gift-giving practices enable companies to foster a sense of workplace merriment during the holidays, but often these companies are doing so on the cheap. Like encouraging pot luck–style holiday feasts instead of picking up the tab themselves. Typically employees have come up with these shared-responsibility/make sure there’s something-for-all gift giving practices because they feel the need to acknowledge one another. Often implied is that they don’t really feel valued by the company so they look for ways to express feelings of worth to each other. But many of the gift giving practices that have evolved have long since lost the basic requirement – that they have some emotional relevance to both giver and recipient. Once the practice causes your staff simply to go through the motions – it’s time for that ritual to go.
Show Appreciation and Relieve Employee Stress by Being the Gift Giver
As a business owner and/or manager, you can include the cost of some modest gifts along with the expenses of the holiday office party and – voila`—you’ve relieved a ton of stress for everybody. Those who go into hock each year by spending more for coworker gifts than they can afford will get a chance to stabilize their finances. They may even stop swiping writing tablets and other office supplies throughout year because they feel more appreciated and less “justified” in making up for the strain in their budget. Those who resent the obligatory shopping routine altogether will be off the hook and will feel grateful to you. Those who still want to exchange gifts with special colleagues are free to do so on their own, though it should be made clear that no one is forced to do so or to be made to feel like a “non-team player” if they don’t. An employer who insists to its management team and staff: “It’s our policy to do the gift-giving around here” will put a smile on many faces and engender loyalty in many hearts.
Your employees understand the need to contribute to the financial bottom line by working hard for you throughout the year but, in all reality, this is your company and they secretly appreciate not having to buy their own “thank you” too. Of course this can get expensive when you own or run a big company. But taking lead responsibility for this process, even when only small tokens of appreciation can be given, enhances your stature as a generous, appreciative employer who deserves to receive top productivity from staff. Take advantage of this opportunity at the end of the year to thank them for their contribution to your success and acknowledge their accomplishments. You will inspire reciprocal generosity towards the company and set a great tone for the year ahead!
About the Author:
Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,
The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at http://drcarolwebster.com or call 954.797.9766.
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317
Reprint Policy: You are welcome to reprint this article for your personal use and to share with friends and associates.
Contact Dr. Webster to obtain permission for any commercial purposes.