Image by brungrrl via Flickr
Written by Karen D. Swim
Giving during the holidays can become especially tricky in the workplace. Do you give a gift to your boss? What if you have a matrix reporting relationship, do you give to your dotted line boss too? Do you have to participate in Secret Santa? What do you give to colleagues you barely know?
Unfortunately, workplace giving is often more of a political issue than a true spirit of giving issue. Joanna Young, however sums up the nonsense that has colored the season:
“Billions of pounds worth of presents are returned each year, often the day after Christmas. At least people are starting to donate unwanted gifts to charity shops here so they can sell them on but really, you have to ask why we’re all buying so much unneccessary stuff.I’d rather we focus on meaningful thoughtful personal gifts which can’t be done on a mass scale.”
I have felt this way for years and I’m not alone. Re-gifting has risen to an art form. Gifts become obligations and we give far more than is necessary. Chances are many of your colleagues are feeling the same way. You can lead the way in restoring the joy of the season and win at office politics.
If gift giving is your office tradition, suggest a new tradition this year. As everyone is feeling the pinch from the economy this year, people may be more open to eliminating interoffice gifts.
- Instead of gifts, suggest that everyone bring a canned good or toy to the office. Local food banks are really hurting this year with more families to feed than in past years. Unwrapped toys can be contributed to your local toy drive. In the U.S. fire departments, police departments and hospitals usually have programs.
- Select a community project and adopt them for Christmas. As a group you can pitch in and volunteer time and/or resources.
- Hold a blood drive. There is no greater gift than the gift of life. Blood banks are neglected this time of year and would welcome your efforts.
- Collect warm clothes or blankets. Blankets and warm clothes can be donated to local shelters.
- For a twist on Secret Santa, instead of gifts have recipients trade jobs for an hour or day. This of course will only work in environments where skill sets can be used in a variety of ways.
- Share the gifts of your traditions. Have an interoffice gathering where everyone brings a dish and story that celebrates their own special traditions for the year.
- Instead of giving individual gifts to the boss, chip in and buy one gift from the group. Keep it simple and choose a neutral professional gift, add monogramming if appropriate for a mores personal touch. If your relationship with your boss is very friendly, consider a gift certificate (spa gift certificates are one of my favorites).
- Go caroling. Your department / company can go caroling in the local community, at a local school or local children’s hospital.
Use your imagination and you’ll find that there are so many ways to bring colleagues together and rekindle the joy of the season. To sell your ideas to bottom line managers, remind them that charitable efforts can be publicized. A photo of your team collecting canned goods or giving blood is a great story for your company newsletter, website or local paper.
How does your office celebrate the season? What are your ideas for restoring joy to the season? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.