The Gifts Your Employees Do NOT Want This Year


Ah, holiday gifts. Giving a good one can earn you major bonus points.

But giving the wrong one can flush your reputation quicker than it takes to return it. The stakes are especially high when giving holiday gifts to your employees and coworkers. These are people with whom you probably don’t share a strong family bond (except in the case of a family business, or course.) So there’s no sentiment that might induce recipients to overlook a serious gift giving bungle.

A recent survey by Gyft, a digital gift card platform, shows some data that could help save you the heartache of employee gift giving failure.

Gyft polled 1,018 working consumers asking them the best and worst holiday gifts they have ever received from an employer. And the results range from the just plain unimaginative to the downright ridiculous.

The Worst Employee Gifts

It’s probably no surprise that when asked what the worst holiday gift they had ever received from an employer, most said it was company branded items at over 12 percent.



It seems an umbrella or pullover sweater with you company’s logo on it just doesn’t make the most thoughtful gift.

The next most unpopular employee gift to receive? Fruitcake, with over six percent of those polled citing this classic yet little loved holiday baked good as definite gifting faux pas. Following fruitcake in the least wanted holiday gifts category with three percent each was sweets, in general, and oddly enough, meats.

Some employees did say that sweets and meats were the best gift they ever received from an employer. More than three percent said they do want candy or cookies and five percent said they liked receiving meats such as turkey, ham or steaks.

Maybe the point here is you should check and make sure your employee isn’t on a diet or a vegetarian before gifting a food item.

Other terrible gifts that were mentioned included squeegees, hugs (seriously!), hand sanitizers and … we kid you not … half a candy cane and a broken beach chair.

The Most Popular Employee Gifts

Around 55 percent of working consumers polled said they were hoping to receive cash or gift cards from their employer this year. The most popular is gift cards over cash, earning the favor of well over half of those polled, 63 percent.

Other data showed around 46 percent of those polled claiming they had never received a holiday gift from an employer, answering “Gift? What gift?” If you’re not a gift-giving small business owner, consider the consequence. Over 47 percent of working consumers said they would appreciate an employer more — if they gave gifts.

Employee gifts can be a useful tool to promote happy employees and show your appreciation. But the wrong one can have an adverse effect.

Yes, the holidays … providing myriad ways to both celebrate and spread cheer while creating situations of potential workplace embarrassment all at the same time.

For some clever employee gift ideas that your employees will appreciate, be sure to visit our Business Gift Giving Guide!

Bad Gift Photo via Shutterstock

Check out our Business Gift Giving Guide for more tips about holiday trends.

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Tabby McFarland


Tabby McFarland Tabby McFarland is a staff writer and web researcher for Small Business Trends. As a staff writer she specializes in social media, technology, special interest features, and e-commerce. A geek at heart, Tabby loves to be online interacting with the blogging community. Tabby is a WAHM (work at home mom) and is also an avid Pinterest enthusiast with a strong sense of style and creativity.

5 Reactions

  1. I know that it’s the time to enjoy family and friend. But when you struggle to make ends meet this time of year gift cards or money is always needed. And when it’s from an employer that just builds a strong bond to stay and work harder for the company.It show they still care and they also remember that they were and hourly paided employee at one time in there life. Just a thought to help our employees to get through the end of the year and maybe have a better attuide and outlook on the New Year.
    Thank -you for listening.

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