The Importance of Personalisation in Employee Gifting

Gifting is a great way to show your employees how much you care for them. In this blogpost, we've used references from mythology and a few anecdotes from employees to stress the effect of personalisation on employee recall and satisfaction.
Shreya Vishwanath
Shreya Vishwanath
Marketing At Numans
Running short on time? Read the highlights
  • Gifting is a relatively inexpensive way of showing your employees you care for them
  • However, a personalised gift that's specific to your employee's unique interests can have better recall than a really expensive but generic gift
  • This post explores this relationship between personalisation and recall through anecdotes from employees

Gifting is a wonderful thing. As human beings, we’re programmed to enjoy receiving. Unfortunately, we live in the age of plenty. Gratifying experiences are abound, memories are fleeting, and we’re quick to recover from the afterglow of one nice thing as next one comes our way. It’s hard to make an experience memorable, let alone unforgettable.

Why Take Up Employee Gifting

As an employer, you’ve probably done your fair share of research into why employee experience is important and where gifting plays a role in creating great experiences, but to summarise the benefits of gifting as a tool for creating employee experience -

  • Gifting is a relatively inexpensive way of showing your employees you care for them
  • It is a measure above and beyond the official labour contract, a symbol of recognition and gratitude
  • It increases goodwill, loyalty, and boosts employee morale immeasurably, and can be a token of reassurance in turbulent times.

That said, the role of the right gift cannot be overstated. History and mythology are both testament to this.

The Importance of the Right Gift

A Sacred White Elephant,
Source: wikipedia
Legend has it that the monarchs of Siam (modern day Thailand) bred herds of exotic white elephants that they bestowed upon loyal subjects as gifts. However, white elephants were prone to disease and expensive to feed. Their distinct appearance made them easily identifiable as gifts from the king and any attempts to sell, trade, or engage them in labour were considered to be slights against the monarchy. Caring for a white elephant could impoverish a person, and the gift of a white elephant came to be seen as a curse in disguise.
Krishna and Sudama,
Another story that I often think of in the context of gifting is that of Krishna and Sudama. The story goes that Sudama, a childhood friend of Krishna’s, was on the brink of poverty. As a last resort, his desperate wife urged him to reconnect with Krishna, who by then was the ruler of Dwarka. Though hesitant, Sudama agrees, but insists on taking with him a gift. With nothing in their possession except a few morsels of food, Sudama’s wife gives him a fistful of flattened rice (poha) and jaggery to take with him. After a long journey on foot, Sudama meets Krishna who is overjoyed to see him. Upon seeing the splendour of Krishna’s palace, Sudama almost decides not to give Krishna his gift, but is forced to give the gift when Krishna sees the bundle tucked into his Dhothi. Krishna is ecstatic, amazed that Sudama remembers his favourite food. Unknown to Sudama, with every mouthful of Poha Krishna and his wife eat, his family is blessed with gold, silk, finery, and a palace of their own.

Personalisation, Recall, and Happiness

While there really is no gift you can give your employee with consequences as severe as a white elephant, the right gift can go a really long way. I speak from my own experience and the experiences of many of my peers. As an exercise for this blog, I asked friends to share with me gifts they’ve received from their employers and how the gifts made them feel. We then quantified these feelings on 4 parameters:

  1. Perceived Cost: How expensive they thought the gift was
  2. Personalisation: How well the gift matched their preferences, likes, dislikes
  3. Recall: How well they remember it
  4. How many people they told: A measure of excitement

"I remember that for Diwali, a company I worked at gave every employee one of the most extravagant gift hampers I’d ever seen. Playing cards, gourmet chocolate, snacks, and even an embossed passport holder. The gift was so extravagant, I still remember how pampered I felt."

An Extravagant Diwali Hamper

"My old company sent employees the cutest hampers on their work anniversaries. Each one was personalised and thoughtful - as though every item were chosen just for them. For mine, I got a box full of fancy stationery and plantable pens. I felt so seen. I think I told everybody I know about it."

A Box of Assorted Stationery

"I once received a cactus for my work anniversary. It was a sweet gesture, but it would’ve been the same if they hadn’t sent me anything. The cactus took a lot of damage on its way to me and in the end I felt bad that all their effort (and money) went to waste."

An Anniversary Succulent

"This wasn’t really a gift, but I once told my manager about a book I really wanted to read. When I went to work the next day, a copy sat on my desk! They couldn’t possibly have delivered it so quickly so I imagine someone went to a store to buy it. It’s one of the nicest things I’ve received."

Unexpected Wish Fulfilment

"At my company offsite, we all sat down together for a buffet breakfast. There was only juice and milk available to drink so I asked the waiter if I could get a coke or something aerated to combat the heat. They answered that the coke would have to be ordered a la carte and would be charged separately. I let it go, but my founder (who had overheard everything) placed an order for coke separately and had it brought to me. I was a new employee and the gesture immediately gave me a sense of warmth and loyalty towards my founder and their company. It was an immediate and implicit signal of great culture."

A Glass of Coke, A La Carte

“I guess gifting is hit or miss. My company gave each employee a large, heavy gift-wrapped box at the end of a get together. My colleagues and I, we were all so excited by the sheer weight and size. When I went home and unwrapped it, I found that the box contained an assortment mixers and other cocktail additions. It was nice, but as someone who doesn’t particularly like cocktails, I was a tad disappointed after all the weight-lifting I’d done. Wonderful gift all the same, all my mixologist colleagues were super excited.”

A Box of Cocktail Mixers

Even a quick look at these anecdotes tells you something important - personalisation and recall go hand in hand. Be it the timing of the gift or the gift itself, personalisation has a greater correlation with recall and satisfaction than price. The perfect gift doesn’t have to be the most expensive one. A little thoughtfulness goes much further.

Obviously no one on any employee experience team sets out to be thoughtless. Every gift starts out as a wonderful, extravagant and special thought. Unfortunately, the operational cost of personalisation, the endless back and forth with vendors, the price constraints all chip away at your wonderful idea until all that’s left is a mass manufactured ghost of the idea you started with.

At Numans, we understand this better than anybody. That’s why we’ve built an extensive product catalogue with low MOQs and multiple options for branding and customisation. All you need to do is come to us with an idea. Leave the execution, customisation, and fulfilment to us entirely.

Need help at the ideation stage? We’ve got your back there too! Every time you onboard an employee via Numans, we collect vital information about their interests, birthdays, and anniversaries to make sure that you’re never short on ideas or occasions for personalised gifting.

To leave you with something to think about, here’s a word cloud of interests from over 4000 employees who’ve been onboarded through Numans. Would you have guessed that gardening would be popular enough to be among the most repeated interests? Apart from the ones in this word cloud, employees entered over 500 other interests including F1 racing, gaming, cycling, crocheting, woodworking, blogging, vlogging, knitting, travelling, and more. In other words, your employees are extremely colourful people. Numans can help you find gifts for them that are as colourful as they are. Whether its a company milestone, an offsite, a birthday, a work anniversary, or a major event in their lives, we've got you covered!

Explore our interactive catalogue or get in touch with our team to curate the right gift for all your employees today!

If you have trouble navigating the catalogue, here’s a detailed guide to using our catalogue to personalise your gifting.

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