8 Last-Minute Holiday Gifts for Employees

December 16th, 2016 Comments off
gifts for employees

While many would agree this has been a looong year (#goodriddance2016), the holidays still crept up rather quickly. If you panicked when you saw that wrapped gift on your desk because you realized you have yet to purchase holiday presents, here’s a quick and dirty guide to some easy-to-buy – but also universally loved – holiday gifts for employees.

  1. Subscription box: Who doesn’t enjoy getting a gift in the mail every month? That’s what’s so great about subscription boxes – it’s the gift that keeps on giving. There is a subscription box for everything these days, from beauty supplies to pet toys. And the best part is you can purchase these online in a matter of minutes.
  2. Gift cards: While this might not be the most original idea, let’s be honest, most people would prefer to receive gift cards (over, say, a company-branded mug). The effort here is being thoughtful about the type of gift card each of your employees would appreciate based on their interests.
  3. Day or half day PTO: While every company has different policies about this, giving your team the gift of a “free” day or half day off of work is sure to surprise and delight them. You may want to request that they give you an advance heads up to ensure they aren’t all taking the same days off and you’ll have adequate support in the office.
  4. Wine: Not much explanation needed here. While you’re at it, throw in a cool bottle stopper or a cheese board to complete the gift.
  5. Travel accessories: Is most of your team heading out for the holidays? Make traveling a little easier by getting them some travel accessories, such as a fun luggage tag, a unique passport holder or a stylish neck pillow.
  6. Streaming stick: Show your employees you’re not a regular boss, you’re a cool boss, by giving them a streaming media player, such as the ones from Roku or Amazon Fire. Since more people have started moving away from standard cable and toward internet TV, this is sure to be a hit.
  7. Insulated bottle: While on the surface this may seem like one of the more boring gifts for employees, these days insulated bottles have become almost a fashion accessory. Consider the ones by S’well, for example, which come in a variety of cool designs.
  8. Grocery or restaurant delivery: You can’t go wrong with giving the gift of food delivery, but it’ll be especially appreciated during the winter months when going outside is avoided as much as possible. More and more of these grocery and restaurant delivery services are offering gift cards, so it should be pretty easy to find ones that deliver to your employees.


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10 Low-Cost Ways to Reward Employees

November 25th, 2016 Comments off
businessman holding a gift package in hand .

Do your employees feel appreciated? Do you make a concerted effort to recognize them for their hard work? Is “thank you” a commonly used phrase at your business? Companies that regularly recognize their employees tend to see higher levels of employee satisfaction, morale and retention. Employees who feel their work matters tend to put more effort into their work and treat their clients and customers better. As a result, quality of service and product improve, all of which lead to a better bottom line.

As a small business owner, you may not have the budget to provide your employees with extravagant rewards or huge cash bonuses, but it’s important to show your staff that you appreciate their hard work. And believe it or not, a little bit of recognition can go a long way. Here are just a few ideas for recognizing employees that cost little to no money — but that your employees will appreciate in a big way.

  • Half-day Fridays: Let employees start their weekends early by giving them Friday afternoons off (so long as they don’t leave any work unfinished).
  • Flexible work hours: Give employees the option to work remotely once a week, work four 10-hour days or come in earlier and leave earlier (or vice versa).
  • Casual Fridays: Giving employees the option to wear jeans on Friday costs nothing and offers a fun change of pace for employees (while cutting down their dry-cleaning bill!)
  • Corporate discounts: Companies such as PerkSpot, AnyPerk or Working Advantage offer small business employees discounts on everything from workout classes to theater or sports tickets to travel.
  • Tuition reimbursement: Helping your employees take their skill sets to the next level is a win for them as well as your business.
  • Handwritten thank you notes: Few things are as personal as a handwritten thank you note. Your employee will be touched that you took the time to write to them.
  • Extra paid time off (PTO): An extra paid vacation day is always a welcome option.
  • “Bring your dog to work” days: Letting employees bring their dogs to the office not only brightens everyone’s day, it can also lower stress levels and improve morale.
  • Restaurant or entertainment gift cards: Let your employees treat themselves to a night out with a gift card.
  • Catered lunches once a month: Designate certain days of the month to bring lunch into the office for everyone and celebrate various “wins” among your team.


When in doubt, just ask your employees what they want in terms of rewards. The best type of recognition is personal and shows that you care about your employees as people.

What are some low-cost ways you reward employees? Let me know at @CBpetej

The ‘Dream Team’ of TV Employees

September 30th, 2016 Comments off
Dream team

Do you ever watch one of your favorite TV shows and wish your employees showed as much leadership, dedication or innovative thinking as some of the characters on those shows? Sure, those characters aren’t always the most realistic portrayals of the roles they depict, but what if you could assemble them to make up one super-sized team of employees?

Here’s who we would draft for our dream team, based on specific attributes they could bring to the office:

The Level-Headed Peace Keeper: Jim Halpert, “The Office”

The employees who worked at fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin were an interesting, over-the-top bunch. But within that crazy crew, there was one worker who was always calm, cool and collected, no matter what antics his fellow co-workers were up to. When your team is full of strong personalities, it’s refreshing to have someone like Jim who is level-headed, focused and can rein everyone else in.

The Creative Entrepreneur: Tom Haverford, “Parks and Recreation”

Sure, Tom wasn’t the hardest worker or the smartest member of Leslie Knope’s team, but he certainly was confident and had a creative, entrepreneurial spirit. When he had a vision, he wasn’t afraid to try and achieve it, even if it didn’t work out so well in the end. A team member like Tom who takes risks can help push the rest of your team to think bigger.

The Fixer: Olivia Pope, “Scandal”

A major crisis can sink a company if it’s not handled properly. Olivia, known as “The Fixer,” is a pro at making any type of scandal disappear. While you’ll want someone with more moral integrity on your team than Olivia – who has plenty of skeletons in her own closet – a skilled crisis communicator is a key person to have on your team, should a crisis arise.

The No-Nonsense Outsider: Rosa Diaz, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Rosa is known around the Brooklyn Nine-Nine precinct as the tough, smart, intimidating and slightly scary detective. While she may not win points for friendliness, she is no-frills, no-nonsense and extremely intelligent. She just comes in and gets her job done without any hand holding or need for recognition. While there may be some challenges with having a team member like Rosa who doesn’t always want to be a part of the team, you also know she’ll do great work and will be there for the team when push comes to shove.

The Dedicated Leader: Meredith Grey, “Grey’s Anatomy”

It’s the understatement of the year to say Meredith Grey has dealt with A LOT in her 13 years at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital (her sister’s and husband’s deaths, being a victim of both a ferry and plane crash, having a bomb almost explode in her hands…). Yet she has remained a dedicated, loyal employee and is considered a mentor by the hospital’s residents and interns. In today’s workforce where job hopping is the norm, it’s rare to find someone like Meredith who shows loyalty to her employer, no matter WHAT is thrown her way.

What TV show character would you put on your dream team? Tweet us @CBforEmployers

How Companies are Rewarding Their Workers This Holiday Season

December 10th, 2015 Comments off
Holidays in the office

It looks like most employers are choosing nice over naughty when it comes to thanking their employees this holiday season. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, more employers plan to offer holiday perks in the form of parties, bonuses and gifts this year than in years’ past.

Rewarding Employees with Revelry

A holiday party is a common way for companies to celebrate the end of the year, but over the past few years, many employers have cut back to save money. The good news is 66 percent of employers surveyed say they plan to throw company holiday parties this season, up from 63 percent in 2014 and 59 percent in 2013.

holiday party

The not so good news? Employees may be attending these festivities begrudgingly – if at all. Just 38 percent of workers say they plan to attend the office holiday party. The overwhelming majority (93 percent) say they would favor a “thank you” in the form of a holiday bonus or time off, while only 1 percent prefer a party and 6 percent have no preference.

Doling out the Dollar Bills

Workers wishing for more money in their pockets are in luck: More than half of employers (54 percent) plan to give employees a holiday bonus this year, up from 47 percent in 2014. And some of those bonuses may be bigger than expected: 14 percent of employers say they will give a larger bonus than last year.

Making it rain

Giving the Gift of … Duct Tape?

Many employers also plan to show their appreciation for their employees’ hard work with presents. Forty-five percent of employers will give employees gifts this year – up from 40 percent in 2014 – and 47 percent will give charitable donations.

Employees are planning to get in on the gift giving action as well: 21 percent of workers say they intend to buy holiday gifts for co-workers (the same proportion as last year), and nearly the same amount (20 percent) plan to buy a gift for the boss.

While most workers usually stick to more traditional holiday presents, others like to grab things from their junk drawer on the way to work get a little more creative with their definition of the word “gift.” Some actual gifts workers have received include:

  • A squirrel toilet seat decal.
  • A pair of Christmas socks that look like elf feet.
  • A roll of duct tape.
  • A bell on a string.
  • A mystery bag with a coat in it.
  • A giant heart shaped box of candy … from Valentine’s Day.
  • A picture of a bear.
  • A bowling ball.
  • Homemade sausages.
  • A ceramic sheep you can dress up seasonally.

Gift giving

What are you doing to reward your employees this holiday season? Let us know in the comments!


Giving Thanks: How to Show Your Appreciation to Employees

November 25th, 2015 Comments off
Giving thanks

Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks (to the people you love, to the makers of stretchy pants). So there’s no better time to show your employees just how much you appreciate them.

While the jury is still out on whether hugs in the office are appropriate, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite articles on employee recognition to inspire you to give thanks to your employees this holiday season.

Wear Your Thanks on Your Sleeve

Want the world to know just how much you appreciate a certain employee? Try making a custom “Employee of the Month/Week” t-shirt and wearing it around the office. For more on that fun (albeit potentially creepy?) idea, plus four other ways to show your appreciation, check out 5 Fun Ways Supervisors Can Recognize Employees.”

Spread the Love

Showing your appreciation should go beyond saying thank you – it should be engrained in your day-to-day interactions with your employees. This not only means connecting with your employees on a professional level, but on a personal one as well. Find out more in 6 Ways to Get Employees to Love You as a Leader.”

Help Them Grow

To truly show your employees that you care, invest time in their professional growth. And just remember, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to developing your team members. Learn the best ways to support your employees (and enjoy some awesome farming analogies) in Fertilize the Soil: 3 Ways to Nurture Your Employees.”

Use Technology to Say Thanks

While credit should still be given in person, you can rely on technology to help you track data associated with your company’s rewards and recognition practices and identify ways to improve upon your culture of recognition. Read more in It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Say Thank You at Work.”

Give Them a ‘Fun’ Break

Sometimes, all it takes to show employees that they’re appreciated is to give them a break from their work and have a little fun as a team. And really, who doesn’t love an office potluck? For more ideas, check out “Want More Fun at Work? 10 Things Your Company Can Do Right Now.”

How do you show your employees how much you appreciate them? Tell us in the comments section below.

November Twitter Chat: Why Recognition Needs to Be Part of Your Recruitment Strategy

November 9th, 2015 Comments off
CareerBuilder Twitter Video Chat: The Biggest Recruiting Issues Right Now

As hiring continues to recover after the Great Recession, the competition for talent is causing many employers to worry not only about meeting their hiring needs, but also holding onto their top performers.

What can employers do to protect their most valuable asset?

Our resident talent advisors Tim SackettJennifer McClure, Matthew Stollak and CareerBuilder’s president of recruitment software solutions, Mary Delaney got together to discuss how employee recognition factors into effective talent management, recruitment efforts, and some of the best strategies for striking the right balance.

Missed last month’s Twitter video chat? Catch up now: Today’s Hottest Trends in HR Technology. We welcome all human resources professionals, recruiters and talent acquisition leaders to become part of the evolution! Sign up now to start getting Talent Advisor in your inbox.

Recognition and Engagement Starts with Reflection

November 6th, 2015 Comments off
Better recognition and retention starts with reflection

Many years ago, I worked as a human resources leader for a professional services firm. I loved it. I was surrounded by hard-working and high-performing people who sat at their desks all day long and logged billable hours for clients.

But something wasn’t quite right.

It was the first role I held where I learned the power of reflection. Up to this point in my career, I was taught that action was the basis of success. There was no time to sit back and think because “thinking” was viewed as being unproductive — especially in a company that billed time for its services.

I took the risk and chose to be reflective. That’s when I realized our employees were very talented as professionals, but disconnected as people. Morale was low. People were isolated. Turnover could be better.

When I reflected on what I could do to change the culture, I became passionate about recognizing exceptional people — not just outstanding work.

Most recognition efforts are misses.

Recognition starts with stepping back and acknowledging people as human beings in the first place. This idea may seem rudimentary and benign, but the reality is that many companies expect people to show up at work to work and nothing else.

Today’s workplace is nonstop and very similar to the professional services firm at which I worked earlier in my career. We were more concerned that employees were visible at their desks, and clocking billable hours, versus any contributions they may have offered.

Talent advisors need to take recognition back to the basics.

Believe it or not, this will cost you nothing but your personal time. Create patterns and behaviors and consistently exhibit them to have others learn and mimic what you do.

I went back to basics by meeting with every manager who had direct reports. I told them a new performance expectation of theirs would be to say “hi” to every single one of their reports, face to face, every day.

Greater recognition yields engagement.

My program wasn’t some cute “HR touchy feely” effort. It was an earnest expectation, and I had the full support of senior management. I asked our company’s leaders to give me three months to improve morale and retention. The contemplative effort of making people acknowledge each other, on purpose, completely reframed work as we knew it.

Morale grew, and less complaining occurred. Attrition dropped. Managers were inclined to give timely, positive feedback to their staff every day. I had to address some skeptics with this back to basics approach to recognition, but numbers don’t lie. Better recognition strategies yield better talent outcomes.

Recognition costs you nothing but time. And if you do it right, the return on your investment is worth every effort.


Throughout the month of November, our resident talent advisors are focused on how recognition is vital for both talent acquisition and retention — and how the right technology tools can help you move the needle. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions.

The Secrets Behind the Best Rewards and Recognition Programs

June 29th, 2015 Comments off
Talent advisor Laurie Ruettimann discusses the best ideas in employee rewards and recognition programs

If there’s one thing talent advisors know, it’s that acknowledging exceptional performance isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Right off the bat, people are paid to do good work. That’s how most companies do work. Showing up and making an important contribution is part of a job. Anything less is unacceptable. And while it’s important to remark upon the effort of someone who goes above and beyond, saying thank you is just good manners.

So how do you recognize and reward great performance as part of an overall talent management strategy?

Behaviors Matter More than Technology

Companies like The Hershey Company and JetBlue use HR technology solutions to collect data on performance and link numbers with behaviors. But just because you buy a technology solution doesn’t mean you know how to use it — or that your work is done. The Hershey Company remedied this by looking outside of HR to its line leaders and supervisors, and creating a program to encourage peer-to-peer recognition and have a little fun. JetBlue used a thoughtful communication strategy to make sure employees knew its leadership was serious about creating an environment of recognition.

Keep in mind, technology cannot solve the problem of a broken culture — only people can.

Experiences Count

The recession was tough, and restrictive travel policies created a dent in many conferences. However, savvy talent advisors have been using talent management tools to identify the high-performing, high-potential workers in the upper right segment of the 9-box grid who deserve opportunities to learn from their peers. And they have gone to bat for these workers. Not everybody can fly around the world and attend conferences, but some people can go to San Diego or Las Vegas for two nights to attend important and informative events. Find some wiggle room in your budget and surprise your best and brightest workers.

Think Social

Companies like DuPont, Allianz and Quest Diagnostics use cloud-based social recognition software to encourage employees to thank one another on Facebook and Twitter. The benefits are immeasurable. Social recognition enables people to show off their work-related accomplishments, which could benefit your recruiting and referral strategy. Additionally, social recognition helps employees find balance and blend their professional and private lives in a healthy manner. And social recognition shows the world that your organization has doubled down on culture and gratitude, thereby enhancing your employer branding initiatives.

And here’s a pro tip: if talent advisors think through the behaviors and communication strategies needed to encourage a culture of recognition, you may not even need to buy software.

begin with the end in mind

The most successful rewards and recognition programs compensate — financially and emotionally — for the long-term behaviors that you’d like to see and develop in your workforce. Family-run organizations who pride themselves on steady growth and stability seek to retain workers who are motivated differently than those who might be attracted to jobs in the volatile world of technology start-ups.

Rewarding and recognizing employees in a manner that is consistent with your talent management methodologies isn’t impossible. It takes a smart talent advisor who thinks strategically and collaborates with stakeholders — employees, supervisors, executives — to champion these programs across the enterprise.

Good luck!

This month, our talent advisors have been dishing out their best advice on effectively managing your talent and helping them thrive. Catch up on the articles you may have missed, like “5 Ways to Retain Great Workers During Mergers and Acquisitions.” New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.

It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Say Thank You at Work

January 28th, 2015 Comments off
Tech talk: It Shouldn't Be So Hard to Say Thank You at Work

Most people only think about employee rewards and recognition when they have a service anniversary or during the annual review process. That’s a mistake, and not only because It’s a huge industry (nearly $10 billion dollars huge).

I recently interviewed my friend, Paul Hebert, vice president of solution design for Symbolist. Symbolist is an organization that creates “human” programs that connect people and organizations at an emotional level.

Paul thinks talent advisors should examine how technology is changing the way people say “thank you” at work:

My husband once received a nice set of luggage for his 10th anniversary at work. Wait, Is that what you do for a living?

You’re right, Laurie. My industry is associated with lapel pins, clocks and crystal vases. But today’s professional reward company does quite a bit more than peddle merchandise.

In fact, the value we bring to HR departments has very little to do with the award itself. It’s more about helping embed a culture of recognition in a company through training, communication, measurement, reporting and ongoing support.

How can technology help recognize and reward people who are aligned with a company’s culture?

First of all, technology doesn’t reward anyone. People do. So the technology simply makes it easier and faster. If you have a company where no one recognized anyone before you put a system in, you will have a company with a slick technology solution that no one uses.

When you do the work and get your employees and managers on board, the technology can raise the level of engagement. To use some buzz words: With the right system, you can now track the big data associated with recognition and rewards in your company very easily. You can see which managers are engaging within their teams, and which managers are engaging outside their teams.

Every transaction is tracked and gives managers unequaled insight into the culture of recognition they have at their company.

What can’t technology do for users of this software?

Technology cannot fix bad culture. It can’t fix a company that treats its employees like garbage. Too often, clients will expect employee engagement to increase once software is purchased. That just doesn’t happen.

then, I asked Paul to tell me the future.

Predicting the future is hard, Laurie. Anyone have flying cars yet? I think there are a few things I would put my money on, though:

  1. Employee rewards and recognition will become portable. Employees will be able to download and package the recognition events they received at one job and use that as evidence of their talent when applying for another position. Anywhere.
  2. The tech behind rewards and recognition will become bundled with other talent management tech. Frankly I’m a bit surprised it hasn’t happened yet. But what do I know? Where are those flying cars?
  3. Training employees on how to do recognition right will become mission critical. Many companies — especially small ones — can drive a huge increase in engagement through training and never install a reward system.


Paul uses proven motivational theory, behavioral economics and social psychology to design marketing, motivation, incentive, recognition and reward programs that drive extraordinary company performance. If you want to connect with him, you can read his awesome blog and learn more about an industry — and technology — that’s worth knowing about!


Throughout the month of January, the Talent Advisor Portal has been featuring HR leaders who will help you win the war for talent by interpreting technology trends, breaking stereotypes and rethinking your approach to technology. See what else they’ve had to say. New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.