Gift Cards Top List of Employer Gifts to Employees

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According the new American Express Business Gifting survey businesses will be giving employees gift cards more than any other category of gift this year.

The survey found 92% of responding companies say they will be giving year-end gifts to their employees, but only 64% of employees say they expect they will get a gift from their employer. Among companies choosing to give individual employee gifts at year-end, gift cards are at the top of the list (42%), according to a press release.

Spot cash bonuses came in second as a gift choice (37%), followed by company products (35%), food/food baskets (26%), merchandise (25%), and time off (24%), the release said. When it comes to clients and customers, 14% of surveyed companies said they will give their client a gift card.

In order of importance, employees indicated they most want cash (44%) as their year-end gift, followed by time off (17%), and gift cards (15%).

Most managers of medium- and large-sized companies are given guidelines in selecting gifts for their clients (62%), according to the survey. Four in ten are guided on how much to spend on their clients, and 19% are offered guidelines on preferences (personal vs. “desk-based”). The average amount spent on a client gift this year, as indicated by the survey, is $38.50.

Employees are split on whether to get their bosses a holiday gift, American Express said. Forty eight percent say it is not a good idea, with 22% saying it is inappropriate, 13% saying a gift from employees is not wanted by the boss, and 13% saying getting the boss a gift is “kissing up.”

Nearly half (47%) of surveyed employees said giving the boss a gift is okay. Of those respondents, 28% said it is due to the nature of their working relationship with their boss, 11% that their boss is their friend, and 8% because they think it is expected.

The survey found companies will be taking part in special end-of-year activities as well – indicated by 86% of respondents. Three out of four companies said they will mark the holidays with team lunches, dinners, and special events.

About half of respondents said they will host an in-office party (53%), and an almost equal number (51%) will host a party at a hotel or party space. Many companies (46%) will extend party invitations to spouses and friends.

In addition, many employers indicated they are planning group activities such as volunteering in a soup kitchen (43%) and gift exchanges (41%).

Twenty-seven percent of respondents working at a company that hosts a holiday event say they find these parties “fun and interesting,” nearly half say they “can take it or leave it” (48%), and small numbers believe that company parties are either “the event of the year” (4%), or are “to be avoided at all costs” (4%).

The American Express survey on employee incentives and corporate gifting was done in two parts. A telephone survey was administered between October 10 and October 24, 2007, among 501 Human Resource Managers working for a company with 100 or more employees. A second survey was conducted between October 10 and October 24, 2007, via telephone among 511 employees working for a company with 100 or more employees.

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