There’s no denying that giving someone a gift—especially an unexpected one—is an effective way to make them feel valued and appreciated. And creating a company culture that delivers those sentiments is a key part of attracting and retaining employees. One way to meet this goal is by offering thoughtful welcome gifts to new employees as part of the onboarding process. As a result, you deliver a strong, lasting message right off the bat: “We’re so glad you’re here and we value you as part of the team.”
But before you go on an onboarding gift-buying spree, take a look at your planned purchases. This is the perfect time to forego typical branded gift items like pens, stationary or glassware in favor of thoughtful, unexpected and personalized gifts that leave a lingering impact on the recipient. Consider these 6 ways to ensure your welcome gifts stand out from the crowd.
6 Tips to Make Your Employee Onboarding Gifts Stand Out
Start the Story
Corporate meetings and events are generally more memorable, engaging and interesting when they’re driven by strategic narratives—in other words, you want to tell attendees a story. The same goes for your new employees. Your company (in fact, every company) has a story. And now that your new employee is here, they’re part of the plot. Think about your company’s story and message and how you can reflect that in an onboarding gift. You’ll not only welcome the new employee, but also make that person feel as if they’re an immediate stakeholder in the company—and, as a result, motivate them to perform and contribute at optimal levels.
Involve Your Company’s Strategic Priorities
What’s important to your company? What do you, as a business, want to accomplish? Answering these questions can help prompt ideas for onboarding gifts that help new employees feel like they can have an immediate impact.
Let’s say, for example, that one of your company’s priorities is to increase community service and philanthropic giving. You could present a new employee with an onboarding gift basket that includes a certificate for a paid day off to participate in a volunteer opportunity. Or maybe you’re trying to increase business in a certain industry. Include a gift or two from that industry with some brief accompanying information about why that vertical matters and how the new employee can play a part in building that success.
Set the Stage for a Great First Day
There’s nothing quite like the night before starting a new job. Emotions can run the gamut from a few butterflies in the stomach to full-fledged anxiety. Why not take the edge off and deliver a pre-first day gift package that’s filled with essentials to help a new employee navigate their first day? Here’s where you could incorporate some more traditional items like a branded coffee mug and a package of coffee or tea with some unexpected additions. Poll your colleagues to see what items or quirks they associate with the company, then find gifts that match that input. Buy a gift certificate for a nearby restaurant or coffee shop where employees like to gather. If there’s a certain book or publication that’s been especially inspiring to the company, include a copy or a subscription. This is also a great opportunity to indulge your creative side and involve existing employees in the new hire onboarding process. If you have a graphic designer on staff, for example, you could create an eye-catching map of the area around the office to highlight places to eat, grab a snack, take a midday break or unwind at the end of the day.
Personalize When Possible
Depending on how many new employees your company hires, it can sometimes be difficult to offer truly personalized welcome gifts—especially when you factor in things like dietary and other preferences. Yet when at all possible, it helps to personalize gifts to make employees feel even more welcome and valued. If your company equips employees with work phones, consider a gift to a site where an employee can create a custom phone case with their own photos or other art. Another idea? Offer a picture frame (an engraved silver frame is a timeless choice, no matter the office décor) so that the employee can add a favorite photo as desk décor. Other meaningful ideas include a handwritten note from the employee’s new boss or the company’s CEO; a monogrammed messenger bag or backpack; or business cards with a carrying case. You could also add an item that’s specific to the new employee’s position. If they’ll be traveling a lot, consider a monogrammed luggage tag or passport holder. You don’t need to present employees with an entirely personalized onboarding gift assortment, but including one or two customized items makes an employee feel like they’re an appreciated and important member of the team.
Ignite the Spark of Your New Brand Ambassadors
Employees are some of your most effective and powerful brand ambassadors, so why not start them early? If your company sells a product or service, can you involve that in the onboarding gift? According to an article on Inc.com, Dropbox gives new employees free unlimited storage, while Airbnb offers new employees a $2,000 annual travel stipend. Or perhaps your company works with clients whose products or services could be part of an onboarding gift package? Of course, no new employee is complete without company swag like apparel. Consider making a T-shirt or hoodie a part of the gift—the quirkier the design, the better. Or if your company has a branded store, include a gift certificate so the new employee can make their own selection.
Packaging: A Powerful First Impression
Packaging is a critical influence on purchasing, and it can also leave a lasting impression when giving gifts. Take some time to create thoughtful packaging that wows the recipient and makes the moment feel more special. Use your company’s brand colors for inspiration. And that said, don’t feel like you need to spend more money on packaging than the gifts themselves. Something as simple as a delicious treat like a locally made and iced cookie is made more memorable by nestling the item in gift basket filler and a box that coordinate with your company’s colors. If you do opt for a more traditional array of branded swag like a coffee mug, pen, notebook and USB drive, arranging those items in a sleek keepsake box elevates the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Remember that the goal of a successful first day is to make an employee feel welcome, engaged and enthusiastic about what’s ahead. Think about your own experience at your company and what sort of onboarding gifts you can offer that convey those feelings. And as we mentioned earlier, don’t hesitate to do some informal polling among your colleagues to see what suggestions they have.
One other tip? Don’t stop the gift-giving once the onboarding process is over. Occasionally surprising employees with thoughtful, purposeful gifts (and not just during the holiday season) goes a long way in making them feel like an integral part of the team. Sure, a pay raise is nice. But you can’t always put a price on what it means to make an employee feel like a truly valued part of a company’s success. That’s where a strategic gift-giving program can add an important dimension to your company’s culture, giving you a chance to surprise and delight employees just as you would your clients and event attendees. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to explore your company’s gift-giving strategy. As a result, you’ll unwrap the key to increased employee engagement that fuels your company’s long-term success and growth (see what we did there?). And if you need help identifying effective, unforgettable onboarding gifts, we’re happy to join you in a brainstorming session. Reach out to us anytime.