It's the thought that counts but gift-giving at work is fraught with perils, according to workplace expert Peter Handal, president, chairman and chief executive of Dale Carnegie Training.
Some companies have formal policies about the giving and receiving of gifts at the office. Others play it by ear.
Mr. Handal's suggestions for appropriate gift-giving at the office include:
• Do not spend too much money. If you give an expensive gift, it might make the receiver uncomfortable. Appropriate gifts include stationery, chocolates and homemade baked goods.
• Keep it private if you plan on giving to only a few co-workers. This can help avoid any uncomfortable conflicts.
• Know your boundaries. Do not give alcohol. Try to stay away from personal items such as jewelry, perfume or clothing. Those items might send the wrong message.
• Add a personal touch always include a handwritten note regardless of the value of the gift.
• Generally it's not appropriate for a subordinate to give a gift to a superior. It might appear you are trying to gain favor. However, you and your colleagues may consider organizing a group gift for the boss. On the other hand, if you are an executive assistant, a small gift is appropriate.
• If you are a senior employee gifting your staff, make sure each gift is of equal value unless the employee has worked with you on a special project or is your executive assistant. Another idea would be to give a holiday party the whole team can enjoy.