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9 Useful Gifts Your Employees Will Appreciate

From chocolates, pens, plants, and even relaxation kits, meaningful gifts are always more successful than simply giving your employees cash rewards.
Giving a blue box gift.

Money might make the world go round, but a cash reward doesn't even make the top ten of employees' favorite gifts. These types of incentives are typically used to pay bills or purchase essentials, so they aren't enjoyed the way that more personal items are. If you really want to reward your employees for jobs well done, put away your check book and consider these more meaningful gifts instead.

Gift Certificates Give Employees Choice

Gift certificates are similar to cash gifts, but they leave a much more positive impression. As they must be used at particular vendors, they're far less likely to be absorbed into household budgets. Entertainment gifts are the most popular amongst employees, so consider giving gift certificates for music retailers, restaurants, or local movie theaters.

Depending on your business, you might also be able to negotiate a better price by purchasing gift certificates for your clients' firms. You could suggest deducting the amount of each certificate from your clients' next bills. You'll save money in the long run, and your clients will enjoy the extra business from your workers.

Sweet Treats Delight the Senses

Treating your employees to some sweet treats is an affordable way to give your staff a pick-me-up. Splurge on gourmet or boutique brands for maximum impact, as studies show most consumers are sticking to the frugal shopping habits they developed during the global recession. For workers used to shopping at discount supermarkets and buying private-label products rather than branded goods, high-end chocolates and candies will feel like a real treat.

Just make sure you consider your staff before you purchase chocolates and candies. A box of chocolates will seem an insensitive gift to anyone that's watching their weight, while chocolate-covered peanuts will be useless to a worker with a nut allergy.

Customized Practical Items Promote Your Business

Practical items customized with your company's logo make great gifts for outstanding employees, as they reward hard work while advertising your business. Choosing practical items increases the likelihood that your employees will use them outside the office, thus increasing their marketing potential.

Studies show sports and outdoor equipment is the fifth most popular category of employee gifts, so why not customize some golf balls, sports bottles, or gym bags? Other custom bags, including insulated lunch bags and duffel-style promotional bags for travel, also make great employee gifts.

Business Card Cases Help Employees Put Best Foot Forward

Two professionals exchanging business cards.Image via Flickr by Geoffrey Franklin

Business cards are essential trade tools for any workers that meet with clients and attend conferences, trade shows, and other networking opportunities. A stylish business card case makes a great employee gift as it'll protect your worker's cards and help them project a more professional image. Vinyl and metal cases are quite inexpensive, but if an employee's done an exemplary job, you might prefer to choose a high-grade leather version.

Insulated Travel Mugs Appeal to Coffee Addicts

Insulated travel mugs have become increasingly popular as caffeine addicts reject overpriced café coffees for the ones they brew at home. These mugs are inexpensive yet practical, which makes them an ideal gift for any coffee lover in your office. They're also likely to increase productivity as workers can savor their hot cups at their desks rather than running out for another brew.

If you're feeling especially generous, you may like to upgrade the coffee maker in your staff room to a more high-end machine. With good coffee on hand and travel mugs at the ready, those time-wasting trips to local coffee houses could be a thing of the past.

Fountain Pens Foster Creativity

a fountain pen in a notebook.Image via Flickr by Dave

The world might have gone digital, but that doesn't mean the days of the fountain pen are dead. In fact, stepping away from the keyboard and picking up a high-quality pen can stimulate imagination, as writer Lee Rourke explained.

"The constant tap-tap-tap-tap on the keyboard reminds me of all the offices I've worked in. The sound bores into me, it fills me with an anxiety I could do without. I feel like I'm signing off invoices rather than writing my next novel," he wrote in The Guardian. "Writing longhand is a whole different feeling."

Giving your employees fountain pens isn't just giving them it's a beautiful gift. It's giving them the keys to unlocking their creativity.

Office Plants Improve Productivity

A plant in an office setting.Image via Flickr by John Lambert Pearson

Rather than saying thank you with a bunch of flowers, think outside the box and buy your favorite worker a desk plant. It'll live much longer than any bouquet and offer a host of benefits beyond its aesthetic appeal.

Plants help lower stress levels and enhance productivity in the workplace by 12 percent. A Washington State University study also showed the moisture in plants released during transpiration creates a humidity level which matches the ideal human comfort range. Pot plants also absorb office noise, helping employees to be less distracted and more focused.

Don't let a lack of natural light in your work space put you off the idea either. Lilies, Philodendrons, and Chinese evergreens all thrive in low light conditions.

Relaxation Kits Help Your Employees Unwind

A 2013 study found 83 percent of American workers were stressed by their job, up from 73 percent last year. Show that you understand the pressure your employees are under and you appreciate their efforts with a relaxation kit.

Well-chosen items like aromatherapy candles, indulgent bath products, and a soft robe and slippers can help your favorite employees turn their home into a day spa. When you help them unwind at home, they'll be much fresher and more productive once they return to the office.

Time-Off Helps Workers Recharge Their Batteries

This gift isn't material as the others are, but it might just be the most appreciated. Many employees say their poor work-life balance leaves them feeling stressed, and this gift helps correct this problem.

A long weekend or even a Friday early mark will help your workers recharge their batteries. "Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out," confirmed clinical psychologist Francine Lederer.

Rested employees are also much more productive than overworked ones. That means the gift of time off is one that rewards not just your workers, but also your company.

Recognizing your team's efforts with these gifts is a great way to thank them for their contributions and foster workplace loyalty.

Author Bio:

Author Jane is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything from tech to mommy stuff. She is featured in many blogs as a guest writer, and can write with authority on any niche or subject.

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