For Japanese companies, corporate gift-giving is as timeless as it is important. A deeply rooted custom, it often involves huge sums of money being spent on extravagant gifts, and traditional rituals such as referring to what you’re giving as “tsumaranai mon” – an insignificant item, despite the expense and time you spent choosing it, to indicate that your relationship is far more valuable than any gift.The business benefits that can be accrued from corporate gift-giving are manifold, from increased productivity to employee satisfaction to longevity in customer relationships. Practised well and in accordance with business ethics, it can be a vital part of your staff reward scheme or hospitality arrangements. Yet there are considerations to be borne in mind, from what type of gift is appropriate to whether it could be misconstrued.Broadly speaking you can divide corporate gifts into two categories – those which are given externally, to a client or partner company, and those which are given internally, to individuals or groups of your own staff.
External Corporate Gifts
There are two key advantages to gifting externally – firstly, you can attract new clients and strengthen your brand image, and secondly you can also build better relationships with your existing clients.Many businesses choose to offer a relatively inexpensive gift as an introduction to their service. These could range from branded hoodies, caps or office stationery handed out at conferences and events, to e-books and other forms of technology given away when someone contacts you for a quote or to register their email address. They’re a useful way to expand your customer base, generate new leads and keep your brand image and message front of mind. Alternatively, you may have a favoured client that you have been working with for some years, and feel the need to reward their custom. In this case, you might want to consider a more expensive form of gift, such as a hamper of food, a case of wine, or an activity like dinner and a show. It’s important that this shouldn’t be seen as favouritism or a form of bribery, but merely a way of saying thank-you.Internal Corporate Gifts
Most businesses that hope to attract the best, people or to maintain employee satisfaction and morale, use a combination of appropriate salary and a set of benefits. Common staff benefits often range from health coverage childcare to ‘duvet days’, but they also regularly take the form of corporate gifts. Why so? It’s not simply because they make people feel appreciated, but also because they can offer significant value to the business itself.It’s traditional when an employee is celebrating a birthday, going on maternity / paternity leave, or retiring, for their company to make a contribution to a gift for them. Yet beyond that, gifts are often given as a means of incentivising staff, or helping them to bond with each other.
The clue is in the name – gifts should not be offered as a prize to be won, because then if your team does not hit the target, perhaps by no fault of its own, and the prize is withdrawn, it can easily lead to resentment. Instead, if a company feels that its staff have done well off their own backs, giving gifts can be a surprising and much-appreciated reward. Another area where corporate gifts are known to be excellent at boosting staff morale and company cohesion is when they involve some form of team-building. Previously we’ve looked at gifts such as branded office stationery or clothing to be given at external events, or valuable physical gifts to be given to clients. But scientific research has shown that experiences make for excellent gifts also, and when they bring employees together, whether they be senior management or lower-level employees, or ideally a mix of the two, this can lead to development and sharing of ideas and skills.One good example might be a corporate away-day, a form of retreat, where staff might be asked to perform a series of tasks in groups outside of their normally working arrangement, with people from different departments.
This is the type of event where unknown leadership, problem-solving and teamwork qualities often come to the fore, characteristics that if successfully identified can then be put to good use back in the office.
It is also a perfect instance of how giving a gift to your employees can potentially reward your business ten-fold.
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