Holiday Gift-Giving Guide: Office Edition

November 3, 2016

Survey: Canadian Managers Feel Workplace Holiday Presents Are Appropriate, Reveal Inappropriate Examples

Toronto, ON – To gift or not to gift at work? That is the question many employees ask during the holiday season. In a recent survey from staffing firm Accountemps, the majority of Canadian human resources (HR) managers said it is acceptable for employees and managers to exchange presents in the office. Sixty-two per cent of respondents cited it’s appropriate for supervisors to give their staff a holiday gift, and 64 per cent said it’s appropriate for workers to give their boss a gift.

HR managers cited an average of $25 for what both employees and managers should spend on gifts.

The survey also revealed what not to do. Managers reported on the most inappropriate gifts they’ve seen, including:

  • “A diamond ring”
  • “Illicit substances”
  • “A bag of items to help with bad body odour”
  • “Liquour”
  • “A mug with a dirty joke on it”
  • “Money”
  • “A PlayStation 4”

“While gifts can be a great way to show appreciation for employees and colleagues, the decision to give will vary based on individual relationships and different workplace traditions,” said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps. “Use your judgment when it comes to appropriateness and remember that meaningful gifts are the most memorable, so think more about the sentiment than the price.”

HR managers were asked, “How appropriate is it for managers to give their employees a holiday gift?” Their responses:

Very appropriate – it’s a must

 6%

Somewhat appropriate – it depends on the work relationship

56%

Somewhat inappropriate – it can seem like you are currying favour

25%

Very inappropriate – it shouldn’t be done

8%

Don’t know

6%

 

101%*

*Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

 

HR managers also were asked, “How appropriate is it for employees to give their manager a holiday gift?” Their responses:

Very appropriate – it’s a must

7%

Somewhat appropriate – it depends on the work relationship

57%

Somewhat inappropriate – it can seem like you are currying favour

24%

Very inappropriate – it shouldn’t be done

8%

Don’t know

4%

 

100%

 

Accountemps offers five rules of for exchanging holiday gifts in the office:

  1. Give unconditionally. Don’t gift out of obligation or because there’s an expectation of something in return. Similarly, managers should make sure employees know trading presents, even if there is a group exchange, is optional and not a requirement.
  2. Make it personal. Show you are thinking of the recipient by finding something he or she will specifically enjoy, such as a gift card to their favourite coffee shop or a book related to a hobby they pursue.
  3. Don’t be overly extravagant – or a Scrooge. Spending too much can make the receiver uncomfortable, while spending too little can make the gift seem like an afterthought.
  4. Present it nicely. No matter the present, cheerful packaging shows thoughtfulness. Include a personalized holiday card with it.
  5. Be thankful. Always express your appreciation. Go the extra step and send a handwritten thank-you note that expresses your appreciation for their help throughout the year. 

About the Research
The survey was developed by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 300 Canadian human resources managers.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has more than 325 offices worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the company’s blog, can be found at roberthalf.ca/accountemps. Follow us at @RobertHalf_CAN on Twitter for additional workplace news and hiring trends.

For further information contact: Naz Araghian, (416) 865-2140, [email protected]