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Top 3 Gifts Employees Want Most this Holiday Season (and All Year Long)

I wrote this last December… but, the suggestions hold up well a year later. Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday season!


‘Tis the season… when leaders everywhere scramble to find the perfect holiday gift for their staffs. This year, will it be:

  • The latest business title?
  • A gift card for designer coffee?
  • An outing featuring laser tag, team building and pizza?

Perhaps you’d like to do something entirely different.  Why not give employees something they really want this year – a gift that will keep giving long after the egg nog is gone?  Consider something from my 2012 Holiday Gift Guide… for leaders who want to delight employees and deliver results.

1.  Encourage career development.
Employee Delight:     Price: $0

According to recent research conducted by Aon Hewitt, 91% of all employees report that career development is among their top priorities. Yet, in engagement survey after engagement survey, managers consistently earn their lowest marks in this area.

Imagine your employees’ delight if this holiday season, you invested some genuine attention in understanding who they are and their hopes and dreams, as well as toward helping them develop plans to move forward, toward their career goals. (And this gift teaches why giving is a good as receiving because as you grow others, you’ll also deck the halls with greater capacity and capability.)

2.  Remove roadblocks.
Employee Delight:     Price: N/A

Forget the visions of sugar plums. What employees really dream about is working without unnecessary obstacles, fire drills, or other irritants.  Ask them about what gets in the way of their best work and you’ll likely be surprised by the struggles and work-arounds that are part of their daily routines.

Watch employees light up brighter than any holiday decoration if you take even small steps toward clearing the way for them.

3.  Express genuine appreciation.
Employee Delight:     Price: Priceless

Spread good cheer in the form of recognition and positive feedback. Too frequently, leaders become inadvertent Scrooges, withholding praise and wondering why performance is lackluster and morale is low.

Catch people in the act of doing things right. Be on the look-out for contributions – large and small. “Thank you” doesn’t require fancy wrapping or a bow; yet it’s warmer than chestnuts roasting to the hearts of employees.

These Holiday Gift Guide suggestions come with a range of benefits. They’re value-priced to fit any budget.  There’s no tax or shipping.  And you can even hope that they’re re-gifted as employees find ways to extend the positive practices you model to others.

So, with the number of holiday shopping days quickly dwindling, skip the malls, dig deeper – within yourself not your wallet – and experience some real magic this holiday season… and all year long.

Gift me with your own thoughts!  What do you employees want most? What gifts are you considering this holiday season?

7 comments on “Top 3 Gifts Employees Want Most this Holiday Season (and All Year Long)

  1. Martina on

    Excellent post, as I prepare for our annual Christmas dinner for the staff.

    Encouragement and gratitude are indeed priceless commodities when dealing with your employees. They come to see you as a genuine and authentic person, and even when you cannot remove all of the roadblocks, they trust that you will always have their best interests at heart and foremost in your mind.

    So, to your list I would add the two-way road of trust. Trust that I will protect and care for and about them. Andabilityilty to trust that they will give their best to their tasks even when I am not physically present.


  2. Elizabeth Drury on

    Thank you for the great ideas. I will give them to my husband, the manager in the house! Everyone is so wrapped up in themselves these days, we rarely take the time out to listen to others’ concerns (and positive thoughts as well). Everyone has something to contribute to make their job and company as whole run more efficiently.


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