A Gift for Your Boss — Mandatory, Optional, or Bad Idea?

2 min read
Dec 16, 2016

Holidays at work

It’s that time of year again, and you’re trying to figure out what to do about getting a gift for your boss. Maybe you’re considering a present as an expression of genuine affection and/or respect, or maybe you just want to make the best move on a strategic level. So should you get something for your boss or not?

A recent survey by Accountemps makes it clear just how tricky this question is. After questioning 300 managers, there was no clear consensus on whether employees should gift their bosses or vice versa.


So, should you or shouldn’t you?

Founder of HR Bartender and author of Essential Meeting Blueprints for Managers Sharlyn Lauby offered some guidance to Glamour recently:

  • First off, it’s a good idea to find out if your boss even celebrates the holidays, and if so, which one? You’d want to give your manager a present that fits the spirit of the season for them.
  • Second, does your company have a gift-giving culture? Was there a holiday celebration last year? Do they celebrate birthdays, and if so, do they give each other gifts? Have you ever received one? You may really want to give your boss something as a sign of appreciation, but if that’s not part of your company’s culture, it could be awkward.

If you do give a gift, it should be in the $20 to $24 range, according to the HR people Accountemps questioned. But Accountemps Bill Driscoll says, "More important than the dollar amount, the focus should be on giving something meaningful to the recipient. The best gifts are thoughtful and demonstrate care for others."

Survey respondents offered these misfires as the worst presents they’ve seen:

  • "A department head who gave employees a picture in a frame of himself"
  • "An employee gave a re-gifted gift that the manager had given the year before"
  • "A big order of frozen pork"
  • "A lavish gift. Something that was very valuable because of favoritism"
  • "A mug with a satirical phrase on it, used to make fun of someone"
  • "A wig"
  • "A $700 gift card"
  • "Liquor"
  • "A dozen roses"
  • "Cash was given discriminately in different amounts to different employees"

Remember, this is supposed to be a season of good cheer, so don’t stress too much about this. Giving is supposed to be fun and feel good for everyone. Last minute ideas? You can always ask a work friend what he or she does. And if you just can’t figure out the right thing to do, maybe a card (again, an appropriate card) can be your best compromise solution.



Describe your image

Get Email Notifications