Business

Wednesday 14 November 2018

The gift of giving kindness shows true Christmas spirit

Gina London
Gina London

Gina London

At this time of year, while you're frantically wrapping up work projects alongside wrapping Christmas presents, how many of you still need to buy a gift for your employees or your boss?

Well, your search is over, because I'm about to reveal the perfect way to communicate appreciation to your clients, colleagues and co-workers right here in this lovely column.

You may already be considering the method that's become the most popular present in America: those extremely heartfelt and thoughtful gift cards. Because nothing says you care enough to give the very best than a little square piece of plastic.

We can do better than gift cards. Besides, economists have estimated that 10pc of all gift cards are wasted because they are lost or expire.

The Harvard Business Review reports the number one thing all we workers want from our jobs - more than high salaries or two-months' paid vacation (although either of those are nice) - is to feel valued.

So, put back that personalised coffee mug or the cheesy gag gift, or speaking of cheese, even the well-stocked Christmas hamper. Now is the season of goodwill. There are many meaningful, and less material, ways to show you really do care.

"Oh, come on!" you over-stressed-business-professionals-who-still-have-loads-of- Christmas-shopping-to-do-on-top-of-everything-else are saying to me now. "Give us a break!"

And I will. Because 'giving breaks' is part of my business gift-giving holiday plan.

1 Give a break

When I moved from 24-hour breaking news reporting at CNN to the more corporate government affairs job I had next, I was astounded by the number of meetings we 'had' to have. Planning meetings. Briefing meetings. Preparation meetings. Client meetings. Debrief meetings. Weekly meetings. Monthly meetings. Meetings about meetings. OMG - and the 'M' stands for 'meeting', of course.

Between now and Christmas, is there a single business meeting that you could do without or put off until after the new year?

Imagine announcing to everyone that you're replacing a meeting with a festive break instead. Let everyone know why you're giving them a meeting reprieve. Make it a thing. I'll bet the work will still get done. Probably even more cheerfully.

2 Give Time

Think of all the many people you zip past in the office hallways or see for only for a moment at the coffee dock or canteen. You could commit to spending more time getting to know your co-workers.

You probably shouldn't proclaim that this is your 'gift' to them - it may come across as condescending.

"Aren't you the lucky one, I've chosen to gift you five more minutes of my presence!" Not likely the kind of presents that will make the positive impact I'm going for.

But by stopping when you say, "How's it going?" and not just breezing by, you can purposefully forge or even strengthen business relationships. Take a few more minutes per day to ask some caring questions. Then listen for the answers.

3 Give assistance

A friend of mine once overheard a co-worker complain that he had to go to the airport to pick up his mother-in-law who was flying in for the holidays. He offered to do it for him instead. Just because.

The man was surprised by the gesture and agreed. He got extra time to get home and prepare for the visit with his family and my friend told me later he genuinely enjoyed the experience.

When I was in college, my boyfriend gave me a homemade booklet of coupons that I could 'redeem' throughout the year.

Yes, the majority of them were kissy in nature and that would NOT be appropriate for co-workers.

But imagine making a coupon book for co-workers that offers to take a turn tidying the canteen, helping someone move house, or to type the minutes from the next meeting. Pick an appropriate task that can be properly done by you on their behalf instead.

4 Give commitment

Here's a bold idea. How about replacing your Christmas office party with a group volunteering effort at a local charity? If that's too much, how about organising a charitable trip in addition to your office party?

'Corporate responsibility' is almost a catchphrase in business these days, but how much your organisation actively demonstrates value for the lives of others less fortunate improves the corporate caring culture within your own cohort.

Sure, the fruit baskets, coffee mugs and gag gifts will continue from Christmas to Christmas.

But before you stress about what you can get someone you work with, maybe you can reflect on what you might do for them.

The gift of giving of yourself through gestures of kindness is something that has lasting power - long after that goofy coffee mug has been shoved into the bottom desk drawer.

 

The Communicator will be taking a break next Sunday to spend Christmas Eve with family and friends. She'll be back with new year's career resolutions on December 31. What are you resolving for 2018? Share by writing to Gina in care of SundayBusiness@independent.ie

 

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

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