The holiday season is here.  This can often be an awkward time in the office for those in positions of leadership.  Although traditionally viewed as the “politically correct” thing to do, is gift giving required/expected in the workplace?  Should leaders/managers make it a point to acknowledge team members and subordinates in a tangible/meaningful way during this particular day?  After all, you have Bosses Day, Administrative Professionals Day…but where is frontline worker day?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question.  In this age of varying religious preferences one could even offend by giving gifts and so you just have to be careful.  Consider these suggestions:

1.  Celebrate or acknowledge employees at a different time of the year.  Christmas is so busy and so packed on the personal side take the pressure off in December.  Consider a “Christmas in July” or something more creative in the spring.  Don’t lock yourself in to a date on a calendar.  Establish a tradition you can live with.

2.  Do it cheerfully or don’t do it at all.  Employees can smell the stench of insincerity like cheap cologne on a crowded elevator. If you aren’t a “gift giver” its okay to say that.  At least then people know what to expect or not expect.  Those who are appreciative and find ways to acknowledge others throughout the year need not be overly concerned with the holiday season.

3.  What does the company culture, past practice dictate in the arena of gift giving?  If this area is a “sacred cow” its best to understand what the expectations are and govern yourself accordingly.  This will help you decide how to approach gift giving.

4.  Keep it manageable.  Do something you can maintain.  Don’t go from Corvettes one year to Chevettes the next.  Simple, thoughtful, and useful are good rules of thumb.  Most people just appreciate being thought about so short of a HUGE increase in their paychecks what you give is really more of sentimental value.