The Psychology of Gifting: Boosting Recognition Product Impact
In this article, we will explore into the psychology of gifting and its impact on relationships, exploring how businesses strengthen their connections with employees and customers. As a promotional products distributor, understanding this aspect is crucial, and we will discuss how you can leverage it to recommend the most suitable products to your customers.
Matt and His Pin
Matt opened his locker. It had been a long day at the hospital, and he had never been ready to go home. As he fumbled his jacket out, something clanked on the floor. Looking down, he saw a small gold pin glinting with a note taped to the back.
“Hi Matt,” the note began, “Here is your 5-year service pin. Great working with you. Thanks, Will.”
Matt snorted. He didn’t know who Will was, and he had been with the company for 4 years. The pin was nice with rich enamel accents – very high quality. Under different circumstances, he would have worn such a pin proudly on the front of his scrubs. As it was, he tossed it into the back of the locker where it landed with a sharp thud.
As it turned out, He had been thinking about submitting his resume to another hospital - the lack of thoughtfulness in celebrating his 5 years of service helped make the decision easy. He’d do it that night.
The relationship between a company and its employees in this scenario is characterized as a gift-giving dynamic consisting of three fundamental parts: the giving, the receiving, and the repaying. Every aspect of the company-employee relationship, from paychecks to gas mileage, is evaluated in terms of reciprocity, creating an ongoing cycle of give-and-take. This cycle prompts the need for promotional and recognition products in Corporate America as a means to balance the relationship. Who is tipping the scale? When employees are motivated to "repay," it leads to higher satisfaction and retention rates. The key to this "repaying" is alignment, fostering a sense of partnership between both parties.
Matt had no complaints about the salary, coworkers, or commute. In a gift-giving relationship, he felt he was the one tipping the scales. When the company failed to truly recognize his contributions in a meaningful way, he questioned whether he wanted to work for a company that ignored the fundamental parts of the gift-giving relationship.
Emma Found A Place That Valued Her
Emma munched on a plate of cold chicken under a cheap-looking banner that said, “Happy Holidays!” She watched as the “real” employees went up to receive gifts from the company. The gifts were inconsistent, varied greatly in value, and were gifted via a random drawing. Emma, being a temporary employee, felt unvalued as she was not receiving any gifts. Despite this, even if she had desired it, the chance of receiving the nice grill set everyone wanted was only one in a hundred. Consequently, the experience did not convey a sense of value to Emma. This negative memory stayed with her. After a few months, she had the chance to become a permanent employee but declined, as she continued to search for an employer who would make her feel valued. The good news is that she eventually found one!
The gift-giving relationship is subjective, making it challenging to measure as promotional professionals. However, there are factors that consistently impact this emotional state. One such factor is a work environment that minimizes differentiation in terms of status, pay, or responsibilities among employees. In such an environment, individuals may feel a threat to their psychological need for status, leading to an increased emotional need for reciprocation. To address this, it is important to assess situations for equality and increase the amount of "giving" accordingly.
The assembly line where she worked had limited opportunities for individual expression. That comes at an emotional cost. To balance the scale, the organization could have offered meaningful perks, gifts, or incentives. When care and thought are put into crafting meaningful employee gifts, a perception of fairness can be maintained without falling into the trap of impersonal and potentially unfulfilling equality.
Alice and the Giant Chair
Alice found herself working for a company with a unique peer-to-peer recognition program that encouraged employees to nominate one another. Although Alice rarely engaged in this activity, one day, her motivation to win a prize drove her to participate. And guess what? It paid off! Alice was the lucky winner, and the size of the box promised something exciting inside.
Eagerly, Alice carried the big box back to her cubicle, filled with anticipation. With cautious excitement, she emptied its contents. To her surprise and mild disappointment, she discovered a gigantic outdoor rocking chair. Living in a small apartment, Alice couldn't help but feel a pang of dismay. After all, what could she do with such a massive piece of furniture? Well, she reminded herself, it was just a free item – and maybe next time it would be different.
Other factors that consistently impact the emotional state of potential gift or award recipients include scarcity, historical precedence, monetary value, perceived quality, and perceived worthiness of the recipient(s). In societies like the USA, success is often measured by income, making monetary rewards more desirable. However, bonuses and pay raises are appreciated by employees but tend to be quickly forgotten. To ensure employees remain on the "repaying" side of the gift-giving equation, gifts and awards are necessary. These gifts and awards should have a higher perceived or actual value to be more effective. This is where you come in – you get to help your clients select branded items with a quality that matches the occasion and purpose.
The scale between the company and its employees is crucial for maintaining harmony. By aiming to keep their employees in a state of "repayment," the company can cultivate appreciation and gratitude, leading to happier, more productive employees. This, in turn, reinforces company culture and reduces turnover rates. Providing the right product fit based on your client's needs can play a significant role in achieving this. While gifts and awards are not a one-size-fits-all solution, asking discovery questions when working with clients can help find the most suitable options. Your ideas and influence can contribute to making employees feel valued and tilt the scale in the right direction. Crystal D and other suppliers in the industry will be on stand by ready to help you too!
Sources: Frey, B. S. (2006). Giving and Receiving Awards. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(4), 377-388. Mayet, C., & Pine, K. J. (2010). The Psychology of Gift Exchange. University of Hertfordshire Internal Report.