Forum: Adults / 20 Something

Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By Natha485
On Mon Dec 16, 2013 08:49 PM

I recently heard, from a magazine article, that it is not appropriate to give bosses a Christmas gift. What are your thoughts on this?

I have always given my closest coworkers and bosses a small gift...usually candy, lotion, or something similar. By closest coworkers I mean co-teachers or assistants, not who I like the most.

I like feeling special on holidays and birthdays and feel like others do too. Is gift giving at work a bad thing?

19 Replies to Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift

re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Dec 16, 2013 09:02 PM
In the US Federal government where I worked it was expressly forbidden to give gifts to a superior. By custom, we exchanged no gifts at all among co-workers unless there was an outside relationship. I had one supervisor who was very handy and she did give us a small Christmas ornament she had made herself at virtually no expense aside from her time and talent. She would not accept any gifts from subordinates per the above rule.

Even though my wife, as a teacher and school principal sometimes got gifts from parents, she was not permitted to get any from her subordinate teachers. They did sometimes have a "Secret Santa" drawing among the faculty.

Giving gifts upward in a hierarchical organization raises all sorts of ethical questions such as trying to curry favor for promotions or other favors and is best avoided. Of course, many companies do give holiday gifts and bonuses to subordinate employees. (Certainly the Federal Government didn't do this.)

Jon
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By Amyliamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Dec 16, 2013 09:08 PM
I work at an elementary school and we do a Secret Santa every year, so that is the gift-giving for my workplace. I also am closer to a group of other teachers and we spend time together out of work and are in a book club together, and in the past we have done gifts, but this year I only gave a separate gift to one of them. Last year I framed and gifted a photo of us as a group at the holiday party to all of them.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By imadanseurPremium member
On Mon Dec 16, 2013 09:54 PM
I think it depends on where you work. My husband worked in corporate America and he never got his boss a gift. I've been a dance teacher or worked for small mom and pop businesses and have often gotten my boss a gift or chipped in with other co-workers to get a gift.

I don't think this rule is black and white or one size fits all.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By RileyA
On Mon Dec 16, 2013 11:01 PM
That is just ridiculous! If you want to get your boss a gift, then get them one. If you have enjoyed working with them and want to say thank you, this is a great way. I have never heard of a rule like this in Australia.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By CaffeinePremium member
On Tue Dec 17, 2013 02:43 AM
I tnink that etiquette rule stems from the fact that the boss generally* makes much more than their employees, so it's not appropriate for the lower-paid employee to essentially give a portion of their salary back to their boss in the form of a gift.

Giving gifts to a boss may also lead to preferential treatment and favouritism over an employee who doesn't give gifts. If there are two equally-performing employees up for a promotion, and one gives gifts to the boss, one doesn't : who's more likely to be promoted?

* generally, of course, meaning larger businesses with a hierarchy of managers, not so much a mom-and-pop small business where the owner may struggle to break even.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By lux
On Tue Dec 17, 2013 02:45 AM
Edited by lux (197070) on 2013-12-17 02:51:24
Ooh thanks for posting, I've been wanting to do the same!

I've got a bit of a weird/unique situation in my workplace: we're a very small business (less than 10 of us all up), so we call work very closely together, my boss included. I know he's getting us Christmas presents, but I don't know if that means we should pitch in together and get one for him?

The complicating factor is that there's actually only two staff members other than my boss (including myself) who celebrate Christmas, another staff member's position has just been terminated, and another is incredibly new to the team. Add to that the fact that I know at least one of our team is really hurting for cash right now, so I guess I just don't feel right asking people to pitch in money? But I think it would completely inappropriate for me to purchase a gift alone.

If I don't bring this up, I know the rest of the team won't, but I also know that they're all far too polite to say no if I suggest it.

Help?!
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Dec 17, 2013 02:56 AM
^ I'd just leave it in that situation. A card at most. I do think it's weird to buy your superiors presents, whereas it's sort of expected to get some sort of token for your subordinates.

The reason a lot of workplaces don't allow people to buy their bosses presents, is the same reason many workplaces aren't allowed to accept gifts from suppliers - it can be seen as bribery. We have to deliver presents to some of our clients in plain brown paper so that they don't have to return them or put them into a communal gift-swap raffle thing.

In your case Lux, if you're the only person that buys the boss a present for a holiday that not all of you celebrate, it could rub the others up the wrong way. Like when Rachel gets left out when her boss and colleague bond over their cigarette breaks, it could be seen as too pally/exclusionary/suck-uppy/whatever.

I have to admit I'd feel like a bit of a brown-noser if I got the MD a present.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By lux
On Tue Dec 17, 2013 03:05 AM
Thanks Louise! To clarify, I'm wondering if I should suggest buying a group present from the whole team. I completely agree that a solo gift is out.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Dec 17, 2013 03:37 AM
Given what you said about the team circumstances, I'd just leave it alone. If I knew that people couldn't afford it/were too new to have a relationship with the boss/didn't celebrate Christmas, but were too polite to say no, then I wouldn't trespass on their good nature. Except if you can do it super-duper affordably, like a couple of bottles of wine. Although having said that if some people don't celebrate Christmas they might be from a non-drinking religion - thanks for all these minefields, baby Jesus!
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By schuhplattlerPremium member
On Tue Dec 17, 2013 06:18 AM
Natha485, if you have been working at the same place year after year, you simply follow the gift-giving pattern that you have set.

The advice already on this thread has covered all other situations quite well.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By Krystalmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Dec 17, 2013 08:09 AM
I worked at the same place for eight years, so in a way I grew up with the company and with my bosses (a husband and wife). At the very least I always got them a card and a small gift (Starbucks gift card, candle, etc). Everyone did though, not just me. Everyone was like family! They got us small presents too for Christmas/birthdays/accomplishments.

I just think it depends on where you work and how strict policies like that are. I guess TECHNICALLY it's not right to give gifts to a superior, but I think each situation is different. At my old job, it would have been weird not to...that's how close we all were.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By JigEnPointemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Dec 17, 2013 09:12 AM
Yeah, I'm pretty sure it completely depends on where you work.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By Meganmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:31 AM
If you're going to do it, though, it should be a token/personal thing (if you're close/have a social relationship), not something expensive (because of Jon's points above.) Like, some cookies=great, a $150 bottle of wine=not so much. I'm giving my CEO an iTunes copy (you know how you can gift stuff by email from the iTunes Store?) of the Christmas album I recorded with my choir this season because she expressed an interest in it earlier this month. It's cheap and doesn't raise any ethical issues, and as I'm her direct assistant and work with her every day, it's not a boundary crosser.

I work in a very corporate setting, however, and less hierarchal places can be way more casual about this stuff.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By Natha485
On Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:46 AM
I already got several people from work including my boss a small gift. All year I have felt very appreciated at this job and think Christmas is a good time to make others feel appreciated. I get into the spirit a lot and since I don't have a big family to buy gifts for I will do something at work.

I work at a very small place where gifts are given on birthdays, bosses day (group gift), and other holidays. I can't imagine I would be the only one giving gifts for the holidays.

I have worked other places where I didn't care for the bosses and didnt have close coworkers and at those places I never thought to do anything for Christmas at work. I guess it just depends on the situation. :)

I was just curious what others do at their workplace. Thanks for the responses.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By Gioiamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Dec 17, 2013 05:42 PM
No one at my work gives our bosses presents *at* work, but I know some of them are buddies outside of work so it wouldn't surprise me if they exchange gifts. We have a big enough problem with favorites and brown nosers, so I try to not care about it. What I hate is that for our 2 main bosses (CEO and COO) their assistant sends an email around before Christmas and their birthdays and bosses day asking if you would like to contribute to their present. They usually end up getting enough to get a nice bottle of booze and a gift card, or something like that. So like 5 times a year I feel pressured to throw $5 in the pot. It is basically anonymous if you decide to give and I am not sure that anyone cares, but I find it annoying getting them gifts all the time. But they do give us $100 at Christmas and maybe some various food days throughout the year, so I figure I might as well contribute.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By MarlaSingermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Dec 18, 2013 09:26 AM
At my company, it is standard practice to give your boss a gift. Everyone does it. The way it works is that each person's direct reports decide on a gift, contribute toward the purchase of said gift, then present it as a gift from the team. No one is going to hunt you down and force you to participate, but people are not very nice about it if someone says they aren't going to participate. I think it's kind of weird, and I don't really like it. I don't have a problem with getting my boss a gift, but I think it's weird that we're all just expected to do it, and a lot of the bosses do not reciprocate. We also give them gifts for Bosses' Day and their birthdays, so it can really add up.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By toroandbruinmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:13 PM
It very much depends on the company. For a long time I worked at a tiny company where the few of us gave each other small, inexpensive gifts -- homemade cookies for example -- and gave the boss a gift the same as the others got. The boss gave us sometimes a slightly larger gift, for example a gift card which would cover dinner for two at a family-type restaurant. (The company did not have enough budget for big year-end bonuses; so this was a nice gesture.) With a team that small, a fun, token-gift tradition was easy and did not get out of hand.

At the slightly larger places I've worked, a gift for the boss, whether individual or group, was not expected. Nor was one for co-workers unless you happened to be pals outside of work, in which case the gift-giving was an outside-of-work type presentation.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By highlandrebelmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:36 PM
It really depends on where you work, I think.

I work for one woman and am the sole employee, we have a super awesome relationship so I bought her a pretty pricey gift this year. And I would say it is normal for the relationship we have.

If I worked in a retail/corporate environment, I don't think I would feel comfortable giving something more than say, cookies.
re: Bad etiquette to give the boss a gift
By PinUpGirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Dec 19, 2013 07:40 AM
Gifts are acutally regulated in my field (finance). I can't give a gift worth more than $100 to anyone lest it look like I'm trying to solicit their business.

My boss and I are fairly close. I went to see his choir perform a few weeks ago. He drives me home once or twice a week. I want to do something for him because he's been really understanding with the epilepsy and not being able to drive for 6 months. I want to do something nice for him for the holidays, I'm just not sure what.

ReplySendWatch

Powered by XP Experience Server.
Copyright ©1999-2020 XP.COM, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
XL
LG
MD
SM
XS
XL
LG
MD
SM
XS