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2020 was a challenging year, but one that was — in retrospect — significantly easier to navigate. With COVID-19 cases at a high, mask-mandates, social distancing protocols, and the proliferation of Work From Home, the decision for most workplaces was simple. There would be no office holiday parties, or large congregations of any kind.
In 2021, these decisions aren’t as clear-cut. As the number of vaccinated individuals continues to rise, some companies are reinstating annual in-person events to round off a year of hard work.
Still, many employers aren’t ready to hit send on their holiday party invitations just yet. And they’re not alone: according to ABC News, holiday parties and dinners pose a high risk of transmission and bear the potential of turning into super-spreader events.
Tanna Pearman, a meeting broker for Reno-based Meetings Made Easy, recently told BizBash: “I’m already beginning to see a high number of requests and discussions around gifting options rather than in-person events for December and January. This indicates that more people, once again, [are] opting out of traditional holiday parties.”
Kristen de Jager, the director of event planning at Marriott International said, “Larger corporate parties are postponing until 2022. Holiday trends are shifting away from dance floors and incorporating live performances and entertainment.”
Of course, it’s no surprise that COVID-19 has altered corporate culture, workplace behaviors, and budgets for good. But the questions remain: how do we continue operating within this new culture? How can we celebrate a year of hard work and perseverance without putting our staffers at risk?
This fall, SmartGift launched Hero — a corporate gifting platform for employee and client appreciation for today’s modern workplace. Our team worked hard to perfect a corporate gift experience that rewards employees, nurtures professional relationships, and livens virtual events — like remote holiday parties.
Twenty months into the pandemic, and the threshold for virtual holiday party themes, Zoom holiday party backgrounds, and remote team virtual happy hours has been tested. It’s time to take the workplace holiday party to the next level.
Here are four ways to inject meaningful touchpoints to your virtual office celebrations this year.
Catered meals have always been an integral part of workplace holiday parties, and company culture at large. Meals present a powerful opportunity for the team to celebrate, reinvigorate, and connect with each other. Just because businesses have transitioned to a virtual sphere doesn’t mean the experience of a catered event can’t be replicated.
While company-sponsored cocktail kits and mixology classes are glamorous and enjoyable for the evening, nothing quite compares to the hospitality and pleasure of a prepared meal. This year, treat your employees to a gourmet spread or seasonal treats they can share with their families and sample for days to come.
At Hero, our mission is to celebrate connections and community through seamless gifting. By delivering an enjoyable, human experience to your professional contacts over the holidays, you’re not only ending the year on a positive note, but boosting team morale for the year ahead.
This year, charm your workplace with substance over superficiality.
Corporate gifting is a stand out for any company. Gifting helps build employee and client engagement, and boosts ROI by increasing company loyalty and reducing turnover. But over the years, corporate holiday gifts for employees have gained a reputation — more often than not, they tend to feel transactional and impersonal.
Paul White, the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (Northfield Publishing, 2019), recently told SHRM: “Some employees have reported to me that they don't mind some gifts with logos, but they resent feeling like a 'walking billboard' for the company.” He added, “when they are given gifts that have the company's logo, the item immediately is disqualified as a gift — because the focus of the item is the company, not the recipient.”
While there are several languages of appreciation in the workplace, it’s important to find one that speaks to each individual. Hero prioritizes the recipient’s experience, which is why recipient choice is innately built into our platform.
By opening the gifting experience to clients or employees, you can empower them to choose items most meaningful to them — like being able to select the corporate swag they would actually wear or engage with family-friendly gift collections, rather than just receiving the same type of holiday gift time and time again. If they’d prefer to pass the gesture along, they can also elect to regift the item to a loved one. This process ensures that every gift sent is fruitful and frictionless for each party involved.
Hero also lets you send business gifts to any number of people all at once, bringing hospitality to your virtual holiday event — through Zoom calls, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, and Slack — so you can provide a cohesive experience without workplace disruptions.
With Hero, you can discover meaningful and unique corporate gift ideas for employees, and send a gift that sparks an emotional connection with your recipient, strengthening their relationship with your company.
Office gift exchanges like Secret Santa or White Elephant have been a vital and dependable part of holiday celebrations. A fun and low-pressure way to show appreciation during the holiday season, gift exchanges tend to boost team morale at the end of the year. With built-in anonymity and a prescriptive price range, they tend to remove gifting inhibition, ensuring that every team member gets something of equal value in the exchange.
As seasoned gifting experts, we recognize the importance of removing gifting inhibition. With Hero, you can take the particular magic of gift exchanges to the next level. Whether you’re sending a gift to commemorate end-of-year holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, or contract renewals, we ensure that each employee can digitally unwrap the same, high-tech, seamless, and thoughtful experience that holds their taste and preferences in mind.
Holiday gifting not only highlights your company’s core culture and values, but it also builds a lasting relationship with your giftees. Remember: gifting is a personal experience, and it’s important that every gift you send resonates with your recipient. With Hero, our recipient-choice approach ensures that every gifting experience is personal, delightful, and effortless.
As we approach the holiday season (and all events and office parties therein), it’s important to remember that not every recipient celebrates Christmas or Hanukkah. It’s time to put your DE&I initiatives into action and let recipients choose something meaningful to them instead of sending the same stock red-ribboned and snowflake-studded cookie box.
Our platform lets you include recipients in the process of gift selection simply by curating a collection from our assortment of products, or selecting a pre-made collection — and letting our Gift Genome™ make data-backed smart recommendations for you! Your recipient can choose a gift that speaks to them, ensuring that no product or item goes to waste.
This holiday season, let’s take virtual holiday parties to the next level together. Customizable and scalable to your changing needs, Hero ensures that your engagement strategies align with your company culture — through the holiday season and beyond.
Start gifting with the Hero platform today, or request a demo with our team here.
SmartGift’s Corporate Gifting Series focuses on providing workplaces fun, inventive, and appropriate ways to celebrate all end-of-year holidays. Over the forthcoming weeks, we’ll be discussing hybrid December holiday party ideas, gifting etiquette, DE&I initiatives, gifting trends, and more.