Office Gift Etiquette In The Workplace – Dos & Don’ts

Office Gift Etiquette In The Workplace – Dos & Don’ts

|Dec 12, 2022

Whether it is about the holidays or perhaps a new employee welcome gift, it can be complicated to get the office gift etiquette right. It can be hard to know what you should give a coworker, as everyone has a different perception of what a present should be. Hence, if you’re wondering what the right gift would be for a coworker regardless of the season, this article is for you.

Workplace etiquette looks different in all companies. That also applies to gift-giving.

We'll explain the coworker gift-giving etiquette so you don't have to struggle while choosing the right gift for your workmates. We'll explain what you should and shouldn't do when finding the perfect present for one of your coworkers.

Is It a Good Thing to Give Gifts at the Office?

Since you’re all reunited for the sole purpose of business, it can be odd to think about a thoughtful promotion gift to give to one of your teammates, for instance. However, while it is ethical, you should follow certain boundaries when it comes to giving a gift to someone at the office.

For instance, you should only give gifts if the occasion is appropriate and you would like to show someone your appreciation. Furthermore, requesting gifts is very frowned upon – unless, again, the context is appropriate and you all have come to an arrangement together.

That said, gift-giving is not mandatory. Gifts are a way of promoting a healthy work environment. As mentioned in the beginning, learning about workplace gift-giving etiquette is appropriate if there’s an office Secret Santa party happening soon.

Is It a Good Thing to Give Gifts at the Office?

It's important to take into account different factors when it comes to gift-giving at the office. Here's what you need to take into account if you're having trouble deciding what the best gift would be for one of your coworkers.

1.  Be familiar with your company’s workplace gift-giving policy

Most companies should have a gift policy. If unsure, you can always ask your superiors and see what they tell you.

These policies can prevent potential conflicts. You'll be able to be familiar with the circumstances where it is appropriate to accept or give a gift to someone within the company and the employees that may accept gifts according to the company's gift-giving at work guidelines. Furthermore, according to the company culture, the policy may also let you know what an appropriate or inappropriate gift is.

If your company doesn’t have a gift policy or any office gift etiquette rule, follow the pieces of advice written below.

Be familiar with your company’s workplace gift-giving policy

2.  It may be inappropriate to give gifts to your superiors

While some people prefer not to give gifts to their bosses, that’s not necessarily true. Bosses shouldn’t expect or demand gifts from their employees. However, workers can still choose to give their boss a gift if the occasion is appropriate.

If you would like to give a present to your boss, perhaps you should keep it simple. For instance, a mug or perhaps a piece of office decoration can be a nice gift. It would help if you didn't give personal gifts. And if you're having doubts, maybe it would be best if you didn't give them a gift at all.

3.  Make sure the context is appropriate

If you’re exploring workplace gift exchange ideas, you should also make sure that the situation is appropriate. For instance, it may be a bit uncomfortable if you give a gift to one of your superiors right before the company's annual performance reviews are coming up.

It would be best if you didn't give gifts on occasions when they would be seen as manipulative or intimidating. You may only do it if, for instance, there's a birthday coming up, if someone recently got back to the office or if someone got promoted. The situation can change, and it is entirely up to you to choose whether it is appropriate or not. You can explore some welcome back to work gift ideas if you’re in doubt.

Make sure the context is appropriate

4.  Keep it professional

It can be easy to get carried away and choose anything you may think would be cool to give to one of your superiors or coworkers. However, even if you think the gift is very cool, you don't know if the other person will like it.

We recommend giving someone things that everyone would like. For instance, snacks (like donuts or bagels), books, decorative items, mugs, and pens, among many other things that could be appropriate for any person. You can also explore gifts for wellness enthusiasts if you have a gym lover as a coworker!

It’s also recommended to be familiar with Christmas gift ideas for office staff, so you never run out of ideas for gifts to give someone at the office.

You should avoid giving personal gifts. For instance, perfumes or perhaps clothing is not a very good idea. Also, make sure not to give anything that could be prohibited in the workplace.

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5.  Don’t expect people to reciprocate your energy (or gift)

You may have given someone the coolest gift ever. However, you shouldn’t expect other people to participate in your scheme or give you something back soon.

For instance, let's say that someone from the team recently became a mother. In that case, it can be appropriate to give a collective gift, such as flowers or perhaps a fruit basket. However, this gift shouldn't be mandatory for everyone – only those who want to participate should do so.

Don’t expect people to reciprocate your energy (or gift)

The Bottom Line

Gifts can be considered one of the triggers for the different types of workplace conflict. That's why most companies establish a gift-giving policy. If your company doesn't have one, it is heavily recommended that you speak with your superiors and suggest making one to prevent potential problems from happening in the future.

Either way, the rules for office gift etiquette are different for most workplaces. It doesn’t hurt to ask your superiors if you’re having doubts or if you want to know certain information before committing to such a responsibility. This way, you can avoid getting it wrong!

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