Despite what you may think, promotional products are not just for sales purposes. Many businesses now recognise and reward staff performance and loyalty by handing out personalised or branded gifts. 

These are items that a company gives to its own employees. Whether that’s offering them a bag, folder, computer sleeve or notebook for employees who work on the road, or outside of the office, or rewarding team members with bespoke gifts for longstanding service, or outstanding achievements.

In tough economic times, boosting morale and enhancing workers’ motivation is also key to ensuring staff retention – and using promotional gifts as an internal mechanism is a great way to achieve this. Alongside this, if employees are carrying branded items, they’re also acting as a walking advert for your business.

But, what should you be considering and how should you go about deciding on the best approach?

Regardless of the target audience, giving gifts doesn’t need to cost the earth. Quite often, a reasonably priced gift, chosen with care and sent because you know it sits well with the recipient’s likes and hobbies, will be far more effective than a high value gift handed out on spec.
With longstanding staff who you may know reasonably well – or if you work as part of a small close-knit team – this shouldn’t be a problem. If it’s a music lover, you can get them some headphones; if they like the outdoor life, you can buy them a fleece; or if it’s technology, then maybe they’d like an iPad case.

By tailoring the gift, personalising it accordingly and then spending time choosing an appropriate reward that matches their lifestyle and hobbies, you will build a priceless bond and improve relationships and loyalty within the business.

These types of gifts are appreciated because they not only represent a financial investment, but also show commitment. This all helps to create and build relationships, which are vital for ongoing business success.
Of course, it isn’t always possible to personalise gifts to this extent – you may not have developed a close enough relationship with employees to the point where you know about each individuals hobbies and interests. Alternatively, you may be part of a large business that operates across multiple sites with thousands of staff – this makes personal engagement with everyone extremely difficult.

In this case, you can still personalise gifts by using names or titles, which can also work effectively. You can build on this by ensuring it’s a gift which sticks in the mind, either because it’s useful, it’s unusual, it’s on trend or it’s edible!

In terms of what’s popular at the moment, mouse mats have dropped off, more and more as people hot desk and carry their computers and tablets around with them. Instead, there has been a rise in interest in tech-focused products, such as app pens to operate iPads, wireless mice, headphones and other computer accessories.

If that doesn’t take your fancy, then edible gifts are always a sure-fire hit at Christmas. If it’s a key team member then it’s worth going the extra mile, providing them with a hamper or a personalised tin of hand-baked biscuits. If it’s a more general gift aimed at a larger workforce, then low-cost biscuits, or chocolate bars will always be welcomed at this time of the year.
The most important thing with every gift is to personalise it as much as you can. If you know what people like and enjoy, then tailor the gift to them – at the very least, ensure their name is on the product. By strengthening your relationship with employees during the season of goodwill, you can build on that in the year ahead.

By ensuring people’s hard work and dedication is recognised, companies can create loyalty and build that all-important relationship with the team. This means that people stay with the business for longer, which ultimately benefits everyone.

Darren Leigh is managing director of independent promotional gift specialist

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