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  • michellealvis9

“I HATE Peppermint Bark!” …And Other Great Gifts To Give Your Employees This Season

It’s true. My former boss from the Humane Society & SPCA is reading this today and I am sure he remembers me coming back into my office after giving my staff year-end gifts with the most horrid look on my face.

I walked around the animal shelter and handed my very loyal, very dedicated, and very burned out staff Starbucks gift cards and Peppermint Bark with a note about how much I valued them. As one of my team members opened the box, he blurted out with all sincerity, “I HATE peppermint bark!” which was quickly followed by a body gesture of complete deflation on his part. He was clearly not happy and clearly I missed the mark.

This wasn’t him being ungrateful (ok maybe a little). This was him showing genuine emotion with a side of what I am sure just simply felt like massive under appreciation for his hard work all throughout the year. In hindsight (and to be clear I was a young HR Director at the time), I just did not know better in terms of what employees truly value during this time of year.

Today, with my years of wisdom on top of that, and years of finally getting it right, I can offer some suggestions on ideas for employers to show your appreciation, enhance employee engagement and keep up morale during what is a tough time of year for most of your employees.


Probably the most common type of year end gift, consider a monetary bonus to show your appreciation. Let’s face it, we all work to get paid and receive compensation, even if you work in a nonprofit. Bonuses are another form of compensation and the most logical gifts to give. Even if it is a small amount, there is something about giving them additional compensation that acknowledges you understand the value of paying them for their dedication and time.

Note: I acknowledge that giving routine bonuses can be problematic over time as some employees can come to ‘expect’ a bonus, so a good communication plan year around about end-of-year bonuses can helps to mitigate any expectations.


Who doesn’t like a good party? Um, introverts and HR people mostly (I jest). While these went away during the pandemic, I do see them coming back slowly with some of my clients. There is nothing like an opportunity to gather your team together and socialize in a non-work way to show your staff how much they are appreciated.

Note: Don’t make them mandatory!


Extra time off? Yes please! Who doesn’t like more time off to spend with their loved ones? Whether you plan it ahead of time or spring it on your staff the day before you decide to close down the office for the rest of the day (and there are pros and cons to either approach) you can never go wrong with giving your staff extra time off.

Note: Give your administrative staff a heads up if you plan on doing this so they can prepare any back end system changes that will need to be made.


What is your preference above? What are some other end of year gifts from your employer do you want to see or if you are the employer – what other things can you give your staff to help show your appreciation? Whatever you chose to do, just make sure it fits with your culture and is given equitably to all of your staff.

And if you think Peppermint Bark is the ideal gift, come see me.

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