Managing Company Guidelines: Tips to Communicate Gift Giving Policies

August 16, 2017

By Liz Alton

Do your company guidelines address holiday gifts from suppliers, vendors and partners? If not, your company could face some tough decisions when you receive gifts from those sources. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes that having a clear gift policy that's documented and communicated with employees can help avoid hurt feelings — and potentially larger issues — during the holiday season. Whether receiving gifts from suppliers and vendors or managing your own internal gift-giving policy, here's how to create the best company guidelines for the upcoming holiday season.

Suppliers, Vendors and Holiday Gifts

Suppliers, vendors and partners often send holiday gifts in recognition of the season and to thank your team for a job well done. However, the lines on acceptable gifts aren't always clear. The SHRM notes that it's important to consider whether gifts create a negative environment within the team if they're not fairly shared, and whether gifts from suppliers or vendors could create legal concerns about bribery or expectations of special treatment (depending on your industry). In general, best practices for accepting gifts from suppliers include the following:

  • Set a policy where "de minimis" gifts – under a nominal amount, such as $25 – may be accepted by an employee from an outside source, like a customer or vendor.
  • Any gifts received by an individual employee above that amount should be reported, and an executive or HR can decide how to proceed.
  • Where possible, share gifts among colleagues, such as by putting a basket of treats in the communal break room.
  • Consider donating gifts received to a charity or a local food pantry.

Should You Ever Communicate Gift Policies to Suppliers?

It's important to consider whether you should communicate a gift policy externally — as well as to employees. Companies are increasingly opting to issue friendly, blanket statements to partners requesting that they take the company's gift-giving policies into consideration at the end of the year. Common requests include:

  • A request that no gifts be sent.
  • A request that no individual gifts be sent to employees within the company.
  • A request that any recognition to an individual come in the form of a card or note.
  • Setting dollar limits on gifts that the company can accept.
  • Suggesting alternate approaches, such as a team lunch for the groups working closely together or making a donation to charity.

Tips for Choosing Gifts Within Company Guidelines

If you're charged with giving gifts on behalf of your company, you can breathe easy. To find the perfect gift for the holidays, here's a closer look at how to choose gifts within corporate guidelines. Be aware of specific limitations, target monetary values and other guidelines. Choose gifts that adhere to company guidelines and that focus on the workplace, such as:

  • Branded company items, like apparel or bags.
  • Environmentally friendly, reusable mugs or water bottles.
  • External hard drives or flash drives.
  • Gift cards to office supply stores.
  • Subscriptions to industry publications.
  • A gift subscription to an app that's helpful for everything from mindfulness in the workplace to getting organized.
  • A quality pen or other office product.

Establishing clear company guidelines for gift-giving and receiving makes it easier to navigate the holiday season. Share customer gifts widely with your team and give the same gifts to the whole company — it will help build team spirit and show your appreciation for their hard work.

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