Most people know about the standard acceptable gift-giving seasons in corporate settings, events like Secret Santa exchanges, and clients’ holiday cards. But what are the rules with gift-giving for the rest of the year?
There are a few rules to guide your gift-giving plans around to avoid an embarrassing corporate scandal.
The larger your company, the more likely there is already a very cut and clear gifting policy. If you don’t have one yet, you should make one immediately. It will outline the monetary value you can give and provide ideas of approved gifts for your industry.
Policies like these are also written to avoid violating local gifting laws concerning financial fraud and bribery. For example, providers like PFR Corporate Gifts offer gift certificates that don’t have to pass through payroll, but not all corporate gifts fall under this exclusion. A clear gifting policy can help your company stay in the green with the IRS.
Appropriate gifts for the situation
Most gifts in a corporate setting are just practical marketing ploys to prompt continued business and future referrals. Giving gifts to partnering vendors, past clients, or investors is an excellent way to build working relationships. Promotional gifts, such as stuffed animals or branded tumblers, are a good option for this circumstance.
If you’re gifting within the company, it would be inappropriate to give overly lavish gifts or to give unevenly between staff members. Favoritism is never a positive thing to be accused of, so if you intend to give gifts to your staff, it should be all or none.
Giving gifts to your team on specific days, such as birthdays or work anniversaries, must be communicated. Skills generally accepted in these cases are perishable or of nominal value. Fruit baskets and coffee shop gift cards are usually acceptable options. Rewarding performance is also an opportunity to give away gifts to your staff. Keep the value low and the practicality high.
No expectation of influence
At no point should a gift influence a business decision or create undue discomfort to the recipient. Bribery is, in many situations, a criminal act that is punishable by law. If your gift can be construed as extravagant or given with the intent of bribing someone in your favor, it is inappropriate.
You should work to establish documentation for several reasons:
- First, the cost of a gift is essential to track for taxes and to ensure you are not spending lavishly on gifts
- Second, you’ll want to ensure you’re not co-mingling funds when you’re purchasing gifts for employees and customers.
- Third, to trace your return on investment, you will want to know who you’re sending to and how much that gift brings in return
Gifts should go down in your bookkeeping system like any other business expense.
Gifting can be a minefield, but at the end of the day, it’s meant to be a celebratory, joyful experience. So long as you’re being mindful and obeying all of the relevant policies, your recipient is bound to appreciate whatever you give them.