Key Trends Shaping Employee Gifting in the Indian Corporate Space It is important for corporations to upgrade the gifting trends so they are able to cater to all the desires of the people working for them

By Smriti Somani

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The Indian corporate space is increasingly becoming more and more diverse. We have MNCs co-existing with start-ups and the Gen Y working along with millennials. Needless to mention, such diversity percolates to a differing understanding of values around employee appreciation, motivation, gifting and R&R.

There is a lack of agreement on what is ideal, what policies strike a chord with the workforce and how employees are best motivated. However, there are a few distinct trends that have become prominent in gifting today and most corporations are sticking to them for practical reasons. Here's a lens on a few.

Offering employees a choice

Physical gifts are losing relevance with cash/voucher-based gifting becoming more popular. The reason is simple. It offers employees a choice of selecting what their heart desires rather than being forced to use what they are given. For example, expensive chocolates could go up to Rs.1500 - Rs 2000 a box while if the same amount is given to employees as vouchers or via gift cards, it helps employees with the flexibility to buy what they actually need. More choice means happier employees.

Multigenerational appeal

The entry of millennials has redefined workplaces in many ways. The mindset of this younger group is starkly different than that of the slightly older generation. At such a point, it is important to consider what is an ideal gift that will appeal to both ends of the spectrum. Most organisations are faced with the dilemma of arranging for gifts with a multi-generational appeal. A box of the most lip-smacking mithai would possibly be frowned upon by younger employees as an unhealthy snack while someone older may look at it as a tradition-laden gesture. Similarly, a piece of tech can excite a specific set of people more than others. It is difficult to arrive conclusively at a "perfect' gift that appeals to all. This throws open the issue of zeroing in on a gift that accounts for the biggest diversifying aspect - AGE. Focussing on gifts that have a multi-generation appeal is important.

Personalising gifts

Generic gifts are passé with hyper-personalisation coming into the picture. A pen set vs the same one with the name of the person engraved or a gift card vs the same gift card with a note telling the person how their achievements impacted the company - the value in personalisation is undeniable.

Right from engraving the recipient's name to images to personalised messages and even special notes for every employee is a trend every corporate is focussing on. The relevance lies in the simple fact that with personalisation of content, look, feel and messages, a gift can build a new relationship between the employee and the company. Such relationships are what every corporation is aiming for no matter what the occasion or reason for gifting.

Sustainable gifts

With consciousness about the environment rising amongst corporations as well as younger people, many companies are supporting gifts that are eco-friendly. Paper or plastic-based products are often avoided in support of environment-friendly products. In fact, for some companies, such exercises are even aligned with their corporate social responsibility goals.

Celebrating newer occasions

With a younger crowd becoming a prominent part of the workforce, the routine of celebrating only festive occasions or performance achievements is giving way to celebrating unique occasions such as Thank You Day, World Environment Day, World Diabetes Day and more. This is not only in line with the millennial psyche but also directed towards increasing awareness of the workforce towards things like their own health or the environment or towards a culture of appreciation at work. To ensure that an organisation is gift-ready to celebrate all such important calendar days is a challenge most companies face today but most organisations are seeing value in improving employee engagement with such occasions.

E-com sites based gifting

With the popularity of online shopping increasing exponentially, brand vouchers from e-commerce shopping sites are becoming a popular gifting trend. Even vouchers from travel and food sites are also climbing the popularity charts with most employees showcasing a strong affinity to travel and experiment with food. The popularity of vouchers is also attributed to the fact that they have a multigenerational appeal and even offer employees the option of selecting what they want - two important aspects of employee gifting today. Buying such vouchers in bulk also often offers corporations huge discounts, a win-win for both employees and employers.

Experience-based gifting

Breaking away from all kinds of traditional gifting, many corporations are offering experiences to employees instead of physical gifts. Sponsored trips, spa days or even medical examination at elite health centres leave employees in awe of the company culture that revolves around pampering employees. However, while for bigger organisations with budgets for running such experience-based gifting, this can be feasible, but for startups and SMEs, such gifting could be heavy on the pocket.

Most of these trends are not only popular today, but also practical given the unique balance Indian corporations have to maintain between various types of employees. Gifting needs to inspire a wide range of employees with a varied idea of what is ideal for them. It is important for corporations to upgrade their employee gifting in a way it is able to cater to all such people.

The will to upgrade is also bound to meet with challenges. The current trends point to more spontaneous, personalised gifting that appeals to all. Any gifting programme that accommodates all this needs advanced technological support. While the good news is, we have such tech capabilities at our disposal, the question to ask is, are we aware of our options?

The right amalgamation of times, trends and technology is the formula behind delightful employee gifting. Are you bringing these three together in your organisation?

Smriti Somani

Chief Marketing Officer, Zeta

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