corporate gift-giving

Pros and Cons of Corporate Gift-giving for Global Mobility Managers

Corporate gift-giving keeps on giving. According to Knack, a bespoke gifting company, the market for non-cash business gifts has reached $125 billion annually. It’s even larger than the GDP of 17 U.S. states.

But where do you draw the line when it comes to ethical gift-giving? It depends on the reaction of the recipient. If it’s noticeably bothersome, then you know what not to do next time. If it bothers you, here’s what you can do: Give to a charity based on the causes you support. This would make for a more meaningful gift and can be classified as socially responsible gifting.

As a general rule, though, corporate gift-giving is more accepted during the holidays. It’s the perfect time of year to show clients and your hired talents some heartfelt gratitude for the value that they bring to your business. There are many benefits or pros to it as much as cons. Here are some tips culled from The Resultist:

The pros

Opportunity to strengthen your brand. If you value your company’s brand or image, it’s an opportunity to show clients that you have a strong commitment to lasting relationships. While you may not see clients face-to-face with regularity, a gift to a client will make them feel close to you.

Gifting opens lines of communication. It’s an opportunity for you to initiate or follow up opportunities to talk business.

You make a difference. See if you can give both to the company that hired your recruited talents and the talents themselves. They will appreciate the gesture, because people in general tend to do more business with global mobility managers they know and like. You can become a preferred partner by setting yourself apart from the crowd.

Not all people appreciate the gesture, though. Here are some cons of giving professionals gifts. Even as you get ready to go shopping or jump online to pick out some gifts, it would be prudent to use caution. While giving gifts to clients is a good idea, the potential downsides to doing this include:

The cons

They can be construed as bribery. While gift gifting is an age-old form of expressing appreciation, it is also associated with reciprocity. Therefore, an overly generous business gift could be viewed as more than just goodwill and instead an effort to gain favor. This is a fine line. In fact, some companies have strict policies about accepting gifts from business associates.

The gifts can miss the mark. If you give a gift that doesn’t align with the recipient’s interests or is too expensive, your misstep might overshadow your good intentions.

It’s another item to put in the budget. Yes, you’ll need to pay for the gifts, but that shouldn’t be your only consideration. Before you decide that you’re going to skip this exercise for now, it helps to think about the value of a new or retained client.

KissMetrics did a wonderful job of breaking down the lifetime value of just a single Starbucks customer. It also provided formulas that you can use to do the same calculation for yours.

So what can you do?

While a thoughtful gift can make a positive impression, you also face the risk of damaging business relationships. This is pressure that no one wants to face, and you can easily avoid disaster by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  1. What is a “safe” gift choice? If you have to question whether or not a gift is appropriate, look for something else.
  2. How can you find out someone’s tastes or interests? Find out from the recipient’s workspace for items and photos that reflect interests and hobbies. Or ask their colleague or assistant.
  3. How much should you spend on a business gift? Gifts don’t have to be extravagant to be effective, but skimping might not be the best choice either. Something thoughtful and personalized will be most appreciated.
  4. Should employees give gifts to managers? Business gift-giving should be lateral or from the top down, not the other way around. Subordinates should not be expected to give gifts to managers.
  5. What if you were not planning on reciprocating a gift? Business gift-giving is always optional. If you received a gift but were not planning on reciprocating, the best thing to do is to send a sincere thank you note.
  6. When should I deliver a gift? Remember not everyone celebrates Christmas, so you’ll want to remain sensitive to different religious beliefs. If you don’t feel comfortable asking, you can simply deliver all holiday gifts at the end of the year.