Workplace appreciation: holiday gifts

Two nights ago, I was getting ready for my nightly candle and reading time before bed when I was going through my small candle collection. I came across a candle that was gifted to me by my former boss at my current company (she’s still at the company, and we still chat all the time). It was a soy candle with a pleasant floral fragrance. I remember it came as part of a larger gift set that she sent as a holiday gift just over two years ago, created by a company that is women-owned and run (of course, she would have the forethought to research this before choosing team holiday gifts). It arrived beautifully packaged with a heartfelt card she sent to thank me for all my hard work over the last year. I also remember I was on maternity leave when I received the gift.

A lot of people in general take for granted corporate gifts and holiday gifts; they’re just things that are given and done as a generic token of appreciation. But since I started at my current company, it suddenly dawned on me that for my entire career to date, which spans five different companies, that my current company is the only company I’ve ever worked for that did company-sponsored holiday gifts for employees. It’s the only company that thought that giving a token of appreciation at the end of year to employees was valued and necessary, and so the expense was deemed worth it. Two companies ago, when I was a manager, I became a manager in my third year at the company. In that year, management decided that managers would be responsible for choosing team gifts for everyone on their teams during the holiday season. The catch? The managers of the teams were responsible for paying for the gifts out of their own pockets, so I had to pool money with the two other managers on my team to buy gifts for my direct reports. I don’t remember how much I was forced to pay out of pocket, but it was at least $110-150. That’s on top of any holiday/Christmas gifts I spent on my own family and friends that year. And it was not fun. Why should individual managers be responsible for paying for holiday gifts on behalf of the company when the employer is too cheap to foot the bill for these things? The individual contributors aren’t working for the managers; they’re working for the company.

So I lit the candle that was gifted to me by my former boss that night and gave thanks for working at a company that values its employees and shows it through these gifts. I’ve gotten a lot of gifts while working here, not just during the holiday season, and I’ve never taken any of them for granted. I have a lot to be thankful for where I currently work. There are so many terrible companies that don’t value their employees out there and do nothing to give thanks for their hard work. I’ve worked for many of them. And these companies all need to go evolve or die.

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