Giving corporate gifts has many benefits – improving relationships with potential and existing clients, showing appreciation for a job well done and even raising the profile of your company. But once you have decided on the perfect gift, there are still a number of tricky issues to consider to make sure your gift is both given and received in the right spirit.
The first thing to determine is who exactly will be receiving your gift. Whilst it may seem unfair to say that different people will have different expectations, it is true that the gift you choose for an office junior is likely to have a lower value than one you might send to a senior manager of a global corporation. A present that might seem quite insignificant to one person might be deemed far more lavish and valuable by another. If you are at all unsure, then giving corporate gifts whose monetary value is hard to gauge can be a good solution.
Think about any religious or cultural issues that might arise from the giving of a particular gift, such as alcohol. The relative expense of the gift should also be considered – for example, something that may seem quite inexpensive to you might be perceived as more lavish in a poorer country. Remember too that novelty or joke presents do not always translate well across cultures. Unless you are extremely sure the recipient will find them funny, they're best avoided.
There are certain times of year, such as Christmas, when the giving of a gift is undoubtedly meant as a kind and thoughtful gesture during the festive period. There are very few people who would argue that giving a tin of biscuits to your stationery suppliers could be in any way interpreted as having an ulterior motive. However, the giving a gift at a different time could have other implications. If you receive a gift from somebody whose company has tendered for a contract you are about to award, this could be construed as an attempt to affect your decision. In this instance, the present could be regarded as a bribe, especially if it is disproportionately generous. Always make sure that there can be no suggestion that any gift you send is given for anything but the most honest of motives.
The ethical considerations of corporate gift-giving can seem overwhelming, but with a little careful thought you can send presents that will be received in their intended spirit to the mutual enjoyment of both parties.