Gift-giving has long been a custom of nearly every culture. We give gifts for various reasons, such as to express our appreciation, to strengthen mutual bonds and to symbolize the importance of a relationship. Corporate gifts have become a modern subset of gift-giving and expected formality at every corporate gathering. Many of us may be tired of receiving the same generic corporate gifts of simple office supplies and everyday items, leading to the clutter adorning our shelves and storerooms. With all the lackluster corporate gifts these days, one may wonder if the tradition of corporate gifting is still worth upholding. Can the time, money, and effort put into corporate gifting be justified?
More Than Just a Gift
Most would agree that gifting is not a simple once-and-done task. In fact, corporate gifting can even open a can of worms in some situations. Gift-giving may seem like a voluntary gesture of goodwill on the surface, but it often creates more complex social obligations. For instance, it is usually believed that there is no such thing as a “free lunch”. Although corporate gifts do not explicitly ask for anything in return, there is often an implied meaning that the recipient should be loyal to the company or brand. Other corporate gift recipients may feel obliged to reciprocate and return a gift out of formality.
Gift-giving may also cause the recipient to feel embarrassed or awkward, especially in cross-culture corporate gifting. In some cultures, it is required that one reject a gift multiple times before accepting it, so as to appear more humble. Some traditions also have beliefs that certain objects should not be given as gifts as they tend to carry negative connotations – one such example is the gift of a pair of scissors, which can symbolize the severing of a relationship in Asian cultures. It is definitely important that anyone giving a corporate gift put some thought into it and ensure that it will not send a bad message to any of the recipients.
Where business is concerned, excessive corporate gifting may also leave recipients wondering if there is any ulterior motive on the company’s part. A corporate relationship between buyer and seller or employer and employee is often kept strictly professional in order to minimize potential conflicts of interest. If an employer or company gives away too many corporate gifts, especially those of high value, this could easily cross the line into grey areas where the giver appears to expect favors in return.
While gift-giving may appear to be a simple gesture on the surface, it contains many more hidden intentions especially in a customer or employee relationship. In the end, a corporate gift becomes less about the use of the gift itself but more about the meaning behind the gift, prompting one to wonder if corporate gifts are a practical use of resources.
Are Corporate Gifts Practical?
Corporate gifts can come in many different forms, ranging from perishables like food to useful items such as water bottles, sanitizers, bags, or thumb drives. Other corporate gifts maybe collectibles or display items meant to be admired from afar. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same idea of what a useful gift constitutes. When giving corporate gifts to a recipient one is unfamiliar with, or to a large number of recipients, it is nearly impossible to please everyone. One person may appreciate the novelty of a display item, while another may feel that it is a waste of space if it has no function. Or perhaps an electronic item is useful to a technologically-savvy recipient, but another who hardly uses technology may not appreciate the gift. Thus, shopping for the perfect corporate gift can be a very complicated process.
Although companies often allocate a considerable portion of their budget to purchasing corporate gifts, some recipients may feel that it is a waste of money to spend so much on gifts they would probably never use. They may instead prefer to be given the money used on the gift, allowing everyone to purchase items more suited to their liking. Nowadays, we can also see this trend happening in birthday and Christmas presents, where the recipients are given gift cards, vouchers, or cash instead of physical items. Some companies have been giving their corporate gifts in the form of discounts, cashback, or loyalty reward programs, which they believe gives the recipient more autonomy on deciding which items they would like to receive.
However, some would argue that giving money or gift cards is impersonal and reflect poorly on the giver. Part of the process of gift-giving is selecting the perfect gift for the recipient, deciding on an item that the giver believes the recipient would like. In a corporate context, this carries over to leaving one’s clients and employees gifts with a personal touch, rather than simply giving them cash for practical reasons. Furthermore, employees are already being paid for their work, and customers are paying for the services or products from a company. Giving an employee cash as a corporate gift may hint that the employer is underpaying them, while giving a client cash may hint that the employer is overcharging them.
What is the Perfect Corporate Gift in Singapore?
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