Holiday gift-giving can be a daunting experience and no less so when it’s for colleagues, staff and others in a business setting. You want your gift to convey your year-long appreciation to the recipient in just the right manner, but what is an appropriate gift? Whom should you give gifts to, and how much should you spend?
Here at MOT we were wondering the same thing, so we sought the advice of several experts in the field of business etiquette and gift-giving for medical practices to discover just what is appropriate when it comes to holiday gift-giving. Here’s what they had to say.
Whom should you gift?
First, realize that giving holiday gifts is not mandatory. Some experts recommend sending beautiful holiday cards (not Christmas cards, which may offend non-Christians) with handwritten messages of thanks instead; these can often be more appreciated than an impersonal gift.
“I work with several practices that have refocused their gift budgets to other parts of the year in an effort to set the doctor and the practice apart,” says Nicole Francois, founder and creative director of Market Well, a marketing consulting firm in Mercer Island, Wash., that focuses on doctors in private practice.
However, Francois acknowledges that holiday gift-giving can be an important tradition and gesture of gratitude, graciousness and generosity for many practices. If you are making a gift list, include colleagues who have mentored, shared knowledge and referred patients to you; whole practice teams that regularly refer patients to your practice; and patients who refer often to your practice or have elected to have you do a large amount of treatment (as in cosmetically focused practices).
“It is important to look at who is helping your practice run smoothly and grow,” adds Karen Hickman, an etiquette/protocol consultant with Professional Courtesy, LLC in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“It is always prudent to acknowledge individuals who helped you the most, have made a meaningful impact or have always been there for you when in need,” says Andy Pate, manager of Kinekt Design, a Livingston, N.J.-based manufacturer of a gear ring that has become a popular gift in the medical community. “This should apply across all salary grade levels.”
There’s no need to gift vendors, says Cris Nigro, owner of Proforma Creative Precision, a marketing consulting firm in Foxboro, Mass. Concentrate on staff and clients instead, and make the gifts meaningful.
Which holiday gifts are appropriate?
These are as many gifts available as recipients, but certain items have both widespread appeal and truly show your appreciation. Here’s what the experts recommend:
How much to spend?
Figuring out how much to spend can be tricky. You don’t want to spend so much on a gift that you appear extravagant, but you don’t want to appear cheap or that you’re giving them a token gift either, says Salah Boukadoum, co-founder of Soap Hope.
“Giving particularly expensive gifts can make you look extreme – either too showy or just plain desperate,” says Francois. “Neither is great for your image.” She recommends breaking up your list into three tiers:
Staff and co-workers can fall into any of the above tiers, depending on their service and value to you all year long. And, if you’re new to an established practice, you may consider asking coworkers what the standard is and what they are doing, recommends Angela Martin, owner of Defining Success Coaching.