The 5 Best (And Worst) Team Building Gifts for Employees

Employee holding several gift baskets.Team building is the perfect way to create those “aha” moments and belly laughs that really glue a team together. Think scavenger hunts in the office space or virtual challenges for remote employees. And what makes these team building activities even better? The right gifts. Yep, we’re talking about team building gifts for employees that turn a great day into an epic one. After all, gift-giving doesn’t have to be purely for special occasions. In this article, we’ll explore how a great gift idea can elevate your team’s vibe.

But let’s be real, picking out employee gifts, especially for a diverse team, can be tricky. It’s about balancing fun with professionalism, memorable with meaningful. How about stainless steel coffee mugs for the caffeine lovers? Or customized goodies that scream ‘we’re in this together’? We’ve lined up five awesome team gifts that hit just the right note, and five choices to avoid. Whether you’re in the office, managing remote employees, or planning outdoor team building activities, these tips will guide you in choosing the best way to show your team some appreciation.

The Role of Gifts in Team Building

Alright, so let’s dive into why team building gifts for employees are such a game changer when it comes to boosting morale. It’s not just about handing out freebies. It’s about creating an experience that sticks! You know, the kind that has your team buzzing with excitement even weeks after the event.

First up, a thoughtful gift show appreciation. It’s like saying, “Hey, I see you and all the awesome stuff you do.” This kind of recognition is a big deal, especially in a work setting. It makes people feel valued, and when people feel valued, they’re more likely to go the extra mile.

But it’s not just about feeling good. The perfect gift can actually boost team spirit. Imagine finishing a killer team building activity, and everyone gets something cool that reminds them of the fun they had. Every time they use that gift, it’s a little flashback to the laughs and the teamwork. We’re talking about gifts that keep employee morale and team spirit alive long after the event has ended.

What about gifting for a virtual team?

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – remote employees. With more folks working from home, team building can be a bit of a head-scratcher. But here’s where team building gifts for employees can bridge the gap. Sending a little something to your remote team members can make them feel just as involved as those in the office. It’s about creating a sense of belonging, no matter where your desk is.

Also, let’s not forget the element of surprise and delight. Who doesn’t love a good surprise, right? Unexpected gifts can turn a regular team building day into something extraordinary. It’s these moments that get talked about at the water cooler and remembered at year-end parties.

In short, when you nail the gift-giving part of team building, you’re not just giving out stuff. You’re building memories, boosting morale, and fostering a strong, connected team. And isn’t that what great team building is all about?

Excited employee holding up a trophy.

Team Building Gifts for Employees vs. Performance Rewards

When it comes to fostering a positive workplace culture, both team-building gifts and performance rewards play unique roles. Understanding their differences and how to implement them effectively is key to motivating your team without unintentionally creating a divide.

So, when you’re giving your gifts for team building, it’s important to keep in mind the type of gift you’re giving so that you use the right intention.

Team Building Gifts Are About Unity and Inclusion

  • Purpose: Team-building gifts are all about fostering unity and inclusion. They’re meant to celebrate the collective effort, not individual achievement. Think of them as “employee appreciation gifts.” These gifts are typically given during team-building activities or events and are the same for everyone involved, symbolizing the value of each team member’s contribution to the group’s dynamics.
  • Approach: Ensure these gifts are consistent and not performance-based. They should be thoughtful and cater to the general interests of the team. The focus here is on strengthening relationships and camaraderie among all team members, not just top performers.

Performance Rewards, On the Other Hand, Recognize Excellence

  • Purpose: Performance rewards, on the other hand, are about acknowledging outstanding contributions or achievements. They’re a way to recognize individuals or teams who have gone above and beyond in their roles. There is a time and place for these kinds of rewards, so be careful about giving them out during a team building event.
  • Approach: When rewarding top performers, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy balance. The rewards should be given in a way that celebrates excellence without diminishing the efforts of the rest of the team. One way to do this is by ensuring that the criteria for performance rewards are transparent and based on objective metrics.

Maintaining a Positive Environment If Choosing to Give Both

  • Communication: Clear communication is essential. When giving out performance rewards, it’s important to articulate why the recipients are being recognized, emphasizing the specific achievements or contributions.
  • Inclusivity: Balance is key. While it’s important to reward high performers, it’s equally important to find ways to appreciate the whole team’s effort.

The Bottom Line

The art of gifting in a corporate setting, whether for team building or performance recognition, requires a thoughtful approach. By differentiating between team building gifts for employees and rewards for good performance, you can motivate your team, celebrate achievements, and maintain a harmonious and inclusive work environment.

An AI generated image of various gift items appropriate for the workplace.

Five Great Team Building Gifts for Employees That Will Enhance Your Team Building Experience

1. Custom Team Merch

Nothing unites a team like some awesome custom merch! Imagine your crew sporting hoodies, caps, or even fun socks featuring your team’s logo or a quirky motto. It’s not just about looking cool. It’s about giving that “team feel” of being part of something special.

  1. Quality Matters: Choose high-quality materials that last, so the merch can be worn proudly for a long time.
  2. Inclusive Sizing: Ensure a range of sizes are available, so every team member feels comfortable and included.
  3. Design Input: Get team members involved in the design process for a more personal touch and broader appeal.

2. High-Quality Stainless Steel Water Bottles

Hydration is key, right? Gift each team member durable, stainless steel reusable water bottles. You can even get them personalized with names or your company logo. It’s an eco-friendly and practical gift that constantly reminds them of the team’s unity and shared goals.

  1. Eco-Friendly Focus: Emphasize the environmental benefit of reusable bottles to align with eco-conscious values.
  2. Functional Features: Look for bottles with additional features like insulation for temperature control or spill-proof lids.
  3. Color Choices: It’s best to stick to one color that best represents the company rather than trying to offer various colors.

3. Personalized Desk Accessories

Spruce up those workspaces! Whether it’s at the office or a home desk, personalized items like custom mouse pads, quirky paperweights, or elegant pen holders can add a touch of personal flair to the daily grind.

  1. Ergonomic Options: Consider the functionality and ergonomics of desk items to enhance comfort at work.
  2. Themed Sets: Create themed sets of accessories for a coordinated look – like a matching mouse pad, pen holder, and coaster.
  3. Personalization Options: Offer a range of personalization options, from initials to full names, or even favorite quotes.

4. Wellness Packs

Show your team you care about their health and well-being. Assemble a pack with soothing scented candles, a cozy blanket, a sweet treat, or maybe even a hand-held massage tool. It’s a great way to encourage relaxation and self-care.

  1. Variety is Key: Include a range of items catering to both mental and physical wellness.
  2. Customizable Packs: Allow team members to choose their own items from a pre-selected range to match personal preferences.
  3. Include Instructions: For less familiar items, include simple instructions or suggestions for use.

5. Team Lunch or Dinner Voucher

Good food, good mood! A voucher for a team meal is a fantastic way to foster bonding. Whether it’s a fancy dinner or a casual lunch, it’s a fun way for everyone to unwind, share stories, and build connections outside of work.

  1. Diverse Cuisine Options: Choose restaurants with a variety of cuisine options to cater to different dietary needs and preferences.
  2. Extended Validity: Ensure the vouchers have a long validity period so team members can use them at their convenience.
  3. Group Booking Options: Consider vouchers that allow for group bookings, making it easier to organize a team outing.

Five Bad Team Building Gifts for Employees That You Should Avoid At All Costs

1. Overly Personal Items

Gifting something too personal, like clothing with specific sizes or intimate items, can make team members uncomfortable. It’s important to keep gifts professional and universally appealing.

  1. Stay Professional: Keep gifts work-appropriate to maintain a comfortable environment for everyone.
  2. Avoid Assumptions: Steer clear of items that assume personal tastes or lifestyles.
  3. Seek Feedback: If unsure, get a second opinion or ask team members for general gift preferences

2. Cheap Trinkets

Low-quality items might be easy on the budget but can come across as insincere or thoughtless. Choose gifts that show you value your team’s contributions.

  1. Focus on Quality: Opt for fewer, higher-quality items rather than bulk buying cheap products. It’s better to make a lasting impression than save a few bucks on inexpensive team building gifts.
  2. Longevity Matters: Select gifts that are durable and will be used or appreciated over time.
  3. Brand Perception: Consider how the gift reflects on the company’s image and values.

3. Controversial Books or Media

Gifts that could be potentially offensive or divisive, like books on sensitive political or religious topics, should be avoided to maintain a harmonious team environment.

  1. Neutral Choices: Choose books or media that are non-controversial and generally accepted.
  2. Educational Material: Opt for content that is educational, inspiring, and relevant to your industry.
  3. Consider Company Culture: Align gift choices with the company’s culture and ethos.

4. Alcoholic Beverages

Unless you’re certain about the preferences and policies of all team members, avoid gifting alcohol. It can be a sensitive choice for many reasons, including personal and religious beliefs.

  1. Know Your Team: Be aware of individual preferences and restrictions regarding alcohol.
  2. Alternative Options: Offer non-alcoholic but equally sophisticated options like gourmet coffees or teas.
  3. Respect Policies: Always align with company policies regarding gifts and alcohol.

5. Generic Gift Cards

While convenient, a generic gift card to a local restaurant can feel impersonal and may not contribute to the team experience or spirit. Personalized gifts tend to have a greater impact.

  1. Personalization is Key: Choose gifts that can be personalized or show that you’ve put thought into them.
  2. Understand Preferences: Get to know your team’s likes and dislikes for more tailored gift choices.
  3. Create Experiences: Instead of gift cards, consider gifts that can create shared experiences or memories.

Timing and Presentation of Team Building Gifts for Employees

Timing and Presentation of Team Building Gifts for Employees

When it comes to gifting in the realm of team building, it’s not just about what you give. It’s also about when and how you present it. Nailing the timing and presentation can turn a simple gift into an unforgettable moment for your team.

Choosing the Perfect Moment:

Timing is everything. The best time to give a team-building gift is usually during or immediately after the event. It helps to solidify the positive experiences and emotions of the day. For instance, presenting employees gifts at the end of a successful project or after a fun team outing can leave everyone on a high note.

Make It an Event:

Don’t just hand out gifts, make a mini-event out of it. A little fanfare can go a long way. Gather everyone around, maybe throw in a short speech or a heartfelt thank you note. This shows you’re not just ticking a box but genuinely appreciate their efforts.

Personalize the Experience:

If possible, add a personal touch. This could be as simple as mentioning a team member’s specific contribution when handing them their gift. It makes the gift more meaningful and shows that you’ve paid attention to individual achievements.

Inclusivity in Gifting:

Especially for diverse teams, ensure that the gifts are suitable for everyone. This includes considering cultural sensitivities, personal preferences, and even dietary restrictions if you’re gifting food items.

Presentation Matters:

The way a gift is wrapped and presented can make a big difference. Neat packaging, perhaps with a company logo or a thoughtful note attached, is an easy way to add value–even for small gifts.

Surprise Factor:

Sometimes, the element of surprise can elevate a gift. Unexpectedly receiving a gift can make the moment more exciting and memorable.

Consistency is Key:

If you’re gifting in a group setting, ensure that the gifts are fairly consistent in terms of value and type. It helps avoid any feelings of favoritism or exclusion.

In a nutshell, the timing and presentation of team-building gifts play a crucial role in their impact. It’s about creating a moment that resonates with the team, showing appreciation, and reinforcing the sense of unity and camaraderie.