The company I recently co-founded, Peak Demand Inc., celebrated its first-anniversary last week. As you can imagine, the first year of any new company is especially difficult because you are building everything from the ground up. Our first nine employees had to endure challenges that will never be seen by future employees. In my view, that makes them very special.
The manner of giving is worth more than the gift ~ Pierre Corneille
Because of that, I wanted to do something unique to thank them for their extraordinary efforts. The challenge, of course, is we are a young company and our resources are going towards payroll, factory equipment, inventory, and travel to visit customers. I wanted to do something significant that didn’t cost a lot.
It only took a quick walk around our offices to understand what is meaningful to people. You can see the same in your business. Every employee decorates their work area with things that have significance or meaning to them. If you look beyond the personal items to the work-related objects, you see the few treasures employees keep to remind them of important times in their careers. They are tokens of the past proudly on display.
In my case, I have a photo signed by all the employees of my first manufacturing business. It is my most sacred work treasure because it reminds me of all we accomplished together in that business.
I wrote down what I think are a few principles for giving gifts that are memorable.
1. It should represent a significant achievement. Gifts and celebrations should be special. They should represent something of importance to the company or employee. Celebrating and giving gifts too often minimizes the impact.
2. It should be something that can become a memento. Giving a gift card, a travel mug, or a t-shirt is great but it’s not likely to become a treasured token. Pick something that is unique and can be displayed in the employee’s work area without taking up space.
3. It should be personal. A gift with the company logo is nice but your gift will mean more if it is personalized. Something signed by the team or with the employee’s name and accomplishment will mean more.
4. It should show the employee is part of something special. As humans, we like to belong. Giving a gift that shows the employee belongs to a special group will have more meaning. A patent plaque or a Six Sigma Black Belt award shows the employee has achieved something significant.
5. It should reinforce your principles. Keep in mind, the employee receiving the gift is not the only one who will be affected. Other employees should notice the gift and understand the significance. They should be motivated to try and achieve similar success.
In my case, I decided to give each one of our employees a rock carved with the company logo and the phrase, “The Founding Nine.” When I presented them, I said there would only be nine of these rocks ever made and they were the only ones to get them. I chose a rock because it represented the solid foundation with which we would build the company. I also wanted each rock to be different to represent the different strengths each person brought to the team.
Giving a memorable gift is easier than you think. Walk around your offices and learn what your employees truly treasure. You will be amazed at what you see. Following these five simple principles will help you give gifts that will become your employees’ treasured tokens.
Do you have a treasured token? What is it and why is it so special? What experiences have you had with gift giving? What works and what doesn’t? Comment below.