The value of digital gifting in employee R&R
Rohit V | December 24, 2018

Joy. Happiness. Appreciation. These are a few of the positive emotions one is able to associate with the simple act of gifting. The origin of the gifting tradition can be traced back to ancient history. Albeit as an expression of love, appreciation for a job well done, or gratitude, gift giving is ingrained deep into the fiber of our existence. 

It should then come as no surprise that gifting has found its place in the employer-employee dynamic. Gifting employees has the ability to induce strong, positive emotions and strengthen employee bond with the organisation.

"There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread."

Mother Teresa

What gifts do companies give?

Over time what we gift and the perception towards them has changed drastically. Companies have traditionally decided to go with a box of sweets, dry fruits, chocolates, electronics, etc. It was thought that the value proposition lay in the gesture and not in the actual contents of the gift. 

This strategy worked for the most part until the recent past. Fast forward to present day, the influx of a new generation of employees into the workforce has pushed organisation to re-think their gifting strategy. Millennial's are starting to gain a clear majority of the workforce and they bring along a new subset of wants and needs. They’re tech-savvy and look for gifts that are catered to their interests. 

A popular choice among a majority of the current workforce is digital gifts. As indicated by the info-graphic below, we see that digital/online gift cards are a popular choice.



Digital Gifts v/s Physical Gifts

So, why are digital gifts so popular among a majority of the current workforce?

The generational difference alone accounts for this change in opinion. Millennial's enjoy having the freedom to choose their gift, and are clear about their choices. They view gifts as a sign of appreciation and recognition for their efforts. By gravitating towards a digital gifting option, employers are empowering their workforce with the freedom to use and choose their gifts in a way that best suits their needs. The value of such gifting holds greater long term benefits to an employee than the typical box of sweets/dry fruits.

Yes, physical gifts may look and feel better gift than a digital gift card, but, lack in value and usability. They are also a burden on HR managers to procure, distribute and do not stir any of the positive emotions we associate with the act of gifting. In the end, employees are left wanting for more and companies expend a large number of resources to no avail.

What matters in employee gifting?

Picking a perfect gift for every employee can  But, it is equally important to give gifts that employees find useful. Else, the effort put into conducting the gifting exercise is in vain.

Lucky for you, we’ve got a 5 point checklist to help you give employees a great gifting experience.

  • Multi-generational relevance

  • Gift on time

  • Be inclusive and fair

  • Gift in regular intervals

  • Personalise the gifts

To get in depth insights into what you should look out for before proceeding with a gifting exercise, download our e-book on “Employee Gifting and R&R: 5 things that actually matter”.

Although this looks simple, the challenges faced by both companies and employees with traditional gifting are aplenty. In the next section, we’ll take an in-depth look into what these are and learn about how they limit you from building a good employee gifting program.

Challenges faced with physical gifting

Before we delve into the fine details, let us take a step back and understand how an employee gifting exercise works. We’ll be looking at this from the point of view of Ramesh, the HR Manager. And, Suresh, the millennial employee.











Ramesh has been tasked with procuring gifts for all the employees of his company this Diwali. Unfortunately, he receives word of this only a month before. In this short period of time, Ramesh has to contact multiple vendors, procure samples, test them, finalise a costing and present it to his company, place an order, and hope the vendor delivers on time. If you took a big gasp at the end of that sentence, you’re aware of the complexities this poses to Ramesh.

Challenges faced by employers

Vendor management

Managing vendors is a major hassle for Ramesh, and most employers. From the moment he initiates contact to placing the final order, there is a lot of back and forth, and haggling on prices. This could drag on for many days or weeks, and it isn’t a feasible solution with short deadlines. There are multiple touch points with the vendor and require Ramesh to touch base with the vendor until final delivery.


The costing of procuring physical gifts aren’t fixed. They vary on the size of the order, delivery location, and other factors. Finalising on costing structure beforehand proves to be a hassle and requires a lot of to and fro with vendors.


Ramesh was given a specific goal: to give out gifts to employees for Diwali. Ensuring he gets this done on time is as important as the gift itself. When you’re dealing with vendors from all over the country, delivery on time is not a given. What meaning is a diwali gift going to hold if it’s only given after?


Another factor that is out of control with procuring physical gifts is quantity and quality. What is Ramesh going to do if his order is missing 10 units? He can’t give out these gifts immediately and is made to wait until the remaining units are delivered. Damaged items are also a major concern when dealing with physical gifts.

It looks like Ramesh has his hands full, doesn’t it?

How are these challenges going to affect our trusty millennial employee, Suresh? Let’s find out.

Challenges faced by employees

Non-relevant gifts

Suresh has just received a gift box with the usual sweetmeats this year. He’s glad his company took the effort to show their appreciation. But, he’s left wondering if he should keep this with himself or pass it on? He thinks about what he’d have liked to receive instead.


It so happens that the timing of a gift is as important as the gift itself. When one times recognition and appreciation for big occasions, the gift holds a greater value. This year, however, Suresh is yet to receive his Diwali gift and doesn’t really see the value in getting one after all the festivities are done.

Physical gifts look and feel great, but, it is clear that they pose a number of challenges to everyone and aren’t really offsetting the cost and effort.

The solutionDigital gifting

Companies are slowly but surely gravitating towards digital gifting solutions. The solutions offer a reprieve from the pitfalls of conventional gifting exercises and leverage technology to help companies understand the needs of their workforce better. Remember the challenges we talked about before? Well, digital gifting programs take on them head on and knock em out of the park!

So, how are digital gifting solutions adding value to both employers and employees?

Value to employers

Hassle-free procurement

Digital gifts such as gift cards, brand vouchers, etc. can be procured without the usual fuss. There are a number of companies offering these digital solutions and are easy to adopt. Employers and HR managers alike can place orders based on their requirements in an instant without the usual to-and-fro with vendors.

Cost effective

Digital gifting does not come with variable pricing and offer end-end solutions for an entire gifting exercise. You don’t have to worry about meeting a set budget and haggling with vendors over the price. Simply choose a solution that fits your budget and watch the magic happen.

Instant delivery

Probably one of the most attractive features of digitised gifting. From gift cards to brand vouchers, you can send gifts to your employees in the click of a few buttons. Vendor not answering your calls? Worried if gifts are going to reach you on time? You don’t have to deal with any of that when you go digital.

Inclusivity and fairness in gifts

When you’ve initiated a gifting exercise that isn’t necessarily performance dependent, it becomes essential to deliver the same quality of gifts to all employees; no matter what they do or where they’re located.

A digital gifting solution offers employers the flexibility of multiple options with ease of delivery. From non-executive staff to key decision makers, the quality and kind of gifts can be maintained to promote all round inclusivity.

Personalised gifts

Name engraving or writing a personal thank you note to 100’s of employees is unheard of. But, companies that adopt digital solutions have the ability to add that special personal touch to their gifts. Albeit via adding their employees names to the gift cards, brand vouchers, etc. or by including a thank you note or email along with the gift.

Value to employees

Relevant gifts

Maybe some of your employees like a particular brand, others love shopping on e-commerce websites, and there are those who prefer gift cards. Whatever their need, digital gifting ensures these are met. Companies find it easier to give a variety of these digital gifts basis employees likes, needs, etc. Employees are happy with these as it meets their interests and have no troubling using it.


What employees in today’s workplace want is the freedom of choice. Companies are finally able to bestow this via digital gifting solutions. Employees can use these gifts per their liking and aren’t restricted. In fact, many digital gift cards can be directly accessed via smartphone devices and are very easy to use.

Gifting, when done right, has the potential to inspire and influence the workforce. It can open up avenues for companies to boost engagement with their employees.Digital solutions have come in and helped organisations build holistic rewards and recognition programs. They can provide an organisation with valuable insights on their employees and eliminates the various challenges faced with conventional gifting.


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