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Corporate Gifting and Company Swag: To swag or not to swag

By June 1, 2023July 6th, 2023No Comments

Is Company Swag worth it?

This is the question asked by HR leaders and managers everywhere. “To swag or not to swag”. 

It’s a tough question to answer, and there are definitely pros and cons to that quarterly company swag care package. The short answer is, sometimes.

While there is a time and place for company swag, not everyone in your company will appreciate it, and sometimes the entire meaning behind the swag is missed!

The Swag Dilemma

Ah, company swag—the enticing gifts that captivate our attention. However, not everyone in your company may want another item branded with your company logo.

While it’s true that most of us have received company swag in our professional careers, how many of those items have been what we truly wanted to feel seen and recognized by the company?

While some may really enjoy branded merchandise, others might not share the same enthusiasm. When there are approved budgets, brand guidelines and even things like employee engagement or satisfaction on the line, it is very important that you do things efficiently and effectively.

Quality Over Quantity

When it comes to company swag, there are a couple of rules, but one of the most important ones:

Quality trumps quantity.

Investing in high-quality items is crucial to ensure that the swag has a lasting impact. After all, no one gets excited about flimsy pens or poorly crafted t-shirts.

It’s important to weigh the cost of these valuable items against the potential gain in terms of employee happiness and reception.

The Personalization Predicament

One of the downsides of corporate gifting is its inability to guarantee personalized recognition. While swag can create a sense of unity among peers and colleagues, it falls short in tailoring recognition to the individual.

This is one of the most important aspects about Effective Employee Recognition programs, as well as meaningful employee engagement.

Employees have diverse care preferences, and a one-size-fits-all approach will almost always miss the mark. 

To create a lasting impact, personalization needs be at the heart of your recognition efforts.

Company Swag Benefits

As we continue to dive into whether company swag is the most effective way to show employee recognition – let’s begin by acknowledging some of the benefits:

▶︎ Creating a Sense of Belonging: Company swag can sometimes play a role in fostering a sense of belonging among employees. When individuals receive branded items representing their organization at a company offsite, it shows a sense of unity and togetherness!

▶︎ Boosting Brand Awareness: Swag serves as a walking advertisement for your brand! When employees wear or use branded merchandise in public, they become brand ambassadors, increasing exposure and organically promoting brand recognition.

▶︎ Social Media Amplification: In today’s digital age, employees often share their swag on social media, amplifying your brand’s reach and generating organic buzz

These are some of the biggest reasons why Company Swag might be worth it.

Employee Preferences Matter

There is a big issue with this though. It’s crucial to consider employee preferences and avoid making assumptions. Is swag what you want to use for employee recognition? It may sound like a great idea and convenient to send everyone a piece of company swag but is that what the employee wants?

While some employees may proudly embrace being walking billboards for the company, others might have different feelings. Identifying and respecting individual preferences is key to ensuring that recognition efforts are meaningful and well-received.

Ask yourself – how well do you know if your team would want to wear that company t-shirt out to the grocery store?

A key part of an effective employee recognition program is to know your employees wants and desires. Tailoring your recognition to the individual’s preferences is so much more important than any type of mug or pen. 

This isn’t to say that an employee wouldn’t like a nice quality mug or company pen and notebook, the point here is that not every employee is the same and so some employees might want(!) that mug and pen, and others wouldn’t.

What are some swag alternatives?

Before rushing to order swag, let’s consider some swag alternative options that can have the same impact without relying solely on corporate gifting and branded swag.

Here are a few alternatives that emphasize genuine employee recognition:

▶︎ Dedicated One-on-One Time: Nothing compares to the value of personal connections. Offering dedicated one-on-one time with a direct report, whether through mentoring sessions or organized lunches, fosters a sense of appreciation and meaningful interaction.

▶︎ Work-Life Balance: Acknowledging the importance of work-life balance, consider providing employees with time off to spend with their families or attend special events. Supporting their personal lives demonstrates care and reinforces their value within the organization.

▶︎ Thoughtful Gestures: Employee recognition doesn’t have to be extravagant to be effective. Simple gestures such as personalized notes or digital eCards, or even public acknowledgement during team meetings can go a long way in making employees feel valued and appreciated.

Great news is that most of these alternatives are much more affordable ways to show recognition and value to your team! If you’re interested in that, check out our article on the best ways to recognize your team without needing to spend money.

What about the budget?

Before we wrap – sometimes you do have an approved budget, and you have been tasked with sending the entire team a gift or reward. This could be for a company-wide event or a team celebration after hitting an important quarterly objective. 

These timely events often require that spark that comes with opening something in the mail from your company. There are plenty of options for those different rewards, and Caroo has got a marketplace full of them. However, when it comes to choosing the right item – the best option we have found from our thousands of recipient surveys and customer feedback calls is to actually let the recipient choose themselves.

You can check out Caroo’s budgeted RecipientChoice collections, or even make your own!

In conclusion, the allure of company swag can be enticing, but its effectiveness lies in the thoughtful implementation of your recognition strategies as a whole. 

While swag can play a role in creating a sense of belonging, boosting brand awareness, and fostering team bonding, it is important to balance its appeal and effectiveness with individual employee preferences.

Instead of solely relying on corporate gifting, consider alternatives that emphasize personalization and genuine employee recognition

By prioritizing employee input and tailoring recognition efforts to their desires, you’ll create a culture of appreciation and connection that goes above and beyond the allure of branded merchandise.

Remember, it’s not just about the swag—it’s about making employees feel valued, respected, and truly seen.

If you’re looking for a more detailed guide on Employee Recognition and the Future of Corporate Gifting and Employee Engagement – be sure to check out our Employee Recognition Guide here

Welcome to the new Caroo. We’re here to transform how you care for your employees and create deep connection at work.

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