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6 Rules for Workplace Gift-Giving

Monday, December 19, 2011


What's appropriate and ethical in today's workplace?

Gift giving in the workplace can be tricky! Here are 6 smart guidelines on how to manage specific situations.

Gifts to the Boss

A gift from a subordinate to a boss can be considered “kissing up.” There is an old saying that one should never give gifts UP the corporate ladder, lest the gift be considered a bribe.  However, today, many of us genuinely have friendly relationships with our supervisors and as a result want to spread some holiday cheer in their direction. If you do decided to give the boss a gift, be sure it is modest and not too personal.

Gifts to Co-workers

Unless you are giving gifts to all of your co-workers, it is best to give the gift privately.  Again, select a gift that modest and not too personal. If you and a co-worker are especially close friends, it would be best to exchange gifts

outside of work, rather than in the workplace.

Gifts to Those You Supervise

Here it is important to give everyone a gift…and of course this can be expensive, especially if it is coming out of your personal pocket, not the corporate piggy bank. A great strategy here, can be to give a gift that all can enjoy together, such a catered lunch or break.

Gifts to Peers at other Companies

First of all, it is important to know if company rules permit gift giving. Assuming it is allowed, modest, professional gifts are fine.

Gifts to Administrative Support Staff

In reflection of the important role these employees play in supporting you day to day in the office, they deserve special recognition. As a general rule, plan on spending between $20 - $25 on a gift, more ($35 -$50) if the employee has been with you for 5 years or more.  A note of gratitude is an extra special touch.

Gifts to Other Support Personnel

The custodian, the mailroom delivery person, the copy room staff, etc.  fall into this category. There are two options – get small gifts for everyone, or my preference – take up a collection of donations from the whole office and then present the money (in cash or gift card) on behalf of the group.

Jennifer Adams Galipeau, CHE, is an Associate Professor at the Hospitality College at Johnson & Wales University.

For more information on holiday etiquette and gift ideas, check GoLocalTV fresh every day at 4pm and on demand 24/7, here.


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