Employee Gift Giving: One Piece of the Puzzle in Creating an Inclusive Work Culture

Gift-giving can help to create an inclusive work culture. Here's how.


Katie Rose


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Feeling like we belong in our place of work is something that many of us take for granted. But unfortunately, it’s not a given for everyone. 

More people struggle at work than many managers realise, and the effects that a lack of belonging or acceptance can have on an employee’s mental health can be devastating. Particularly when that employee belongs to a marginalised group.

That’s why creating a culture of inclusivity at work is so essential.

Why do workplaces need to be inclusive?

Having an inclusive working culture is something that not only benefits the employee, but the business itself. When employees feel comfortable, content and accepted at work, morale and work ethic improve, as does employee retention. But really, the advantages of creating a better working culture are tenfold. 

In fact, a Deloitte study revealed that work organisations with an inclusive culture are:

  • 2x as likely to exceed financial targets
  • 3x as likely to be high-performing
  • 6x more likely to be innovative and agile
  • 8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes

But creating a workplace that is both genuinely inclusive and compassionate to its employees is easier said than done.

How do employers create a culture of inclusion?

It’s the question that everyone is asking as businesses move to become more forward-thinking, accepting and compassionate. Truthfully, though, there’s no easy answer. It’s not an exact science just yet.

Apps like Tahora definitely play their part. Loneliness is one of the biggest threats to employee mental wellbeing. But it has huge repercussions for the businesses too, and is estimated to cost employers up to £2.23 billion per annum through underperformance and employees not turning up to work, or leaving their workplace altogether. 

An app like Tahora, that can connect people within the workplace, and build that missing sense of community that can be hard to create in the office itself, is definitely an invaluable resource. This is particularly true in the age of hybrid or remote working. When there’s no longer the option to make common connections over tea breaks, employers need to provide other options for colleagues to build relationships. 

At this time of year, something else comes to mind when we talk about connecting the workplace and boosting inclusion, and that’s gift giving. 

Gifts aren’t an instant fix to inclusivity

Gifting is something we know a lot about at Social Supermarket – our brand purpose is to connect people and businesses with social enterprises, meaning that every gift bought and sent creates positive impact. By working with hundreds of different social impact brands, we make it easy to shop by causes that align with your, and/or your gift recipient’s, personal values. 

Gifting is an opportunity to reward people for their hard work, from a managerial perspective. It can also be an engaging way to connect the workplace.

But gifting isn’t an instant fix for making your workplace more inclusive. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. 

For an employee struggling with anxiety or lack of belonging, the idea of buying a gift (especially for a colleague they don’t know well) could be incredibly stressful.

If someone bulk buys gifts laden with milk chocolate, say, vegan employees could feel uncomfortable and left out.

Many people buy alcoholic gifts as standard, but what happens when an employee who doesn’t drink receives beers, wine, or some kind of fancy gin? 

Though employers arrange office gift exchanges with the best of intentions, this can have the opposite effect as far as inclusivity is concerned. A fun, enjoyable activity for employees shouldn’t be dampened by people having to reveal personal details about themselves, in order to not receive a gift they have absolutely no interest in.

We have a solution to this – Social Supermarket’s Team Gifting Platform.

The Social Supermarket’s Team Gifting Platform: Making employee gift-giving easy and impactful

Our Team Gifting Platform has been designed to solve for the pain-points we saw clients dealing with when organising corporate gifts.

The way it works is simple: you can select a number of products within your specific budget, and your employees can select the one they’d like best. The recipient can then fill in their own address details to receive that gift – taking out the stress of a mass spreadsheet of addresses, saving you time (and reassuring employees who are concerned about privacy and GDPR compliance).

Within your selection, you can choose gifts to suit everyone on your team. We’ve got food-based gifts to suit every dietary requirement, including vegan or gluten-free, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, as well as other miscellaneous gifts so your team members can choose something they really want. 

All the gifts available on the Team Gifting Platform are handpicked by us from social enterprise brands, which means that whenever a gift is purchased, you and your team are making a difference. We’ll measure the impact of every order placed across social and environmental impact areas, which will be viewable from your personal dashboard in 2022.

Gift-giving this way means that every employee in your team receives a gift that they genuinely want. Plus, they can shape purchases around their values, directly supporting social or environmental causes, while receiving something that makes them feel valued at work. Two birds, one stone.

Our favourite inclusive corporate gift ideas

Christmas, arguably the biggest annual opportunity for corporate gifting, is well on its way. After another turbulent year, it’s only natural that employers want to reward their employees. This year, how about making sure it’s an experience the whole team can enjoy?

We’ve got a few ideas to help you out.

The Sycamore Maple Christmas Hamper is alcohol-free and packed full of ethically sourced, sustainable treats. The best part? They’re all vegan. The Fairtrade snacks found inside this hamper are also all ethical, supporting good causes like fighting food waste or helping farming communities.

Other good vegan options include The Red Berry Rowan Christmas Gift Box, which is brimming with eco-conscious, plant-based snacks, as well as wine and beers. Or another alcohol-free option is The Me-Time Christmas Gift Box, which is made up of self-care essentials, like tea and chocolate, as well as ethical body scrubs and soy candles for maximum chill-out time.

We’ve got a wide selection of Christmas gifts, so there’s something for every budget. If things are tighter this year due to Covid-19, The Festive Fair Christmas Chocolate Letterbox Gift is reasonably priced, but still packed full of ethical products that surprise and delight. On the other hand, if this year has been a great one and you’re able to splurge, we have some amazing sharing hampers like The Crimson King Maple Christmas Hamper that are particularly indulgent. 

If none of that fits the bill, there’s plenty more to choose from. View them all and take your pick from our 2021 Christmas Hamper Brochure

Gift-giving, much like the Tahora app are two pieces of the puzzle when it comes to creating an inclusive and rewarding workplace culture. By implementing smaller solutions to reward and connect colleagues, employers can demonstrate that inclusion and wellbeing are priorities for the company. It can start conversations, wherein employees can communicate to their managers what they require for the creation of a truly inclusive space that nurtures the mental health of its people. 

This is just the start, but it sends a message. End 2021 on a positive note, and let your colleagues know that the new year is an opportunity for growth that will improve working culture for every member of the organisation.