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All present but not correct


Planning to give Christmas gifts to employees this year? Then be careful not to get eggnog all over your face.

In a slight twist on the traditional festive survey, Croner has asked staff what the naffest seasonal stocking fillers from the workplace are.

And the resounding answer has been anything with the company logo on it or company products. (Although the HRZone team agreed we’d be more than happy to make an exception for company products if we worked for a diamond merchant.)

Surprisingly, gift vouchers also received the ‘bah humbug’ treatment, with one employee commenting that it was “to spend on something perceived as suitable”.

Although some employees received and were delighted with memorable gifts such as hampers or a day at a spa, the overwhelming message was that the most valued gift was “a bottle of wine and a genuine thank you from the boss”.

All of which is good news, particularly if you’re worried about the tax position. Nichola Ross Martin, the tax expert with HRZone’s sister site AccountingWEB explained that employers are allowed to give:

  • a turkey

  • a box of chocolates – note the singular

  • a bottle or two of ‘ordinary’ wine but not a case.

What exactly constitutes ‘ordinary’ wine seems to be an unanswered question, the implication is ‘not vintage’ but what happens with fortified wines or sparkling wines is something of a mystery – particularly when some of the best-rated champagne around is supermarket own-brand.

Croner also found that some Christmas gifts will be memorable for all the wrong reasons. While some staff will expectantly rip open their December payslip to find a month’s salary as a bonus, it’s not uncommon for others to be opening their P45, with some respondents detailing their worst Christmas presents as “termination of contract” and “redundancy”.

Richard Smith, employment services director at Croner, says: “The survey may have revealed some light-hearted results, but the serious message is that making employees feel valued and appreciated can help in areas such as staff loyalty, commitment and even motivation – and Christmas is an ideal opportunity to do this.

“However, the research shows that just giving any old gift could do more harm than good.

“Extravagant gifts are a nice perk, but the best value gift – a simple thank you – needn’t cost a thing. Smaller companies may struggle to give gifts to their staff and choose to spend the money in another way such as a Christmas party or dinner. ‘Secret Santas’ or other present buying schemes in a department can help spread the Christmas spirit without busting the budget.

“Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to label employers stingy, as our research also shows that choosing the right gift can be a tricky business. Thoughtful gifts are the most valued, even if they are not grand gestures.”

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