Sunday, April 19, 2009

Office Group Gifting, Yay or Nay?

I recently read the Washington Post's Ask Amy Column in which a reader asks whether the office should contribute to a collection being taken up for the loss of their boss's wife. The reader is hesitant to contribute because the boss treats the co-workers unprofessionally. Amy replies that despite the office's misgivings of their boss, some expression of sympathy is warranted. She also notes that a donation or remembrance gift is thoughtful but not necessary.

This post got me thinking about the number of group office gifts I've been asked to contribute to over the years. Having worked in an large office for a number of years, some good natured person is always collecting money for a gift for a coworker's birthday, engagement, wedding, new baby, etc. I generally think office group gifting are nice gestures and can foster office camaraderie, but the reality is that these collections can add up over a year and the choice to contribute is often complicated by numerous issues.

The following issues are usually considered when deciding whether to contribute to an office gift pool:

1. It might win points with the gift recipient, especially if the recipient is your boss
2. Even though you don't want to participate, you think it's the polite course of action, and you don't want to be the only person who doesn't contribute monetarily
3. You barely know the gift recipient
4. You may not get along with the gift recipient
5. You just don't have the funds to contribute
6. You hate group gifts and think they are tacky

My general approach to office gifting is that I give only when I know the gift recipient well and I only give what I can afford. At the end of the day I don't think anyone should feel obligated to contribute to the office gift pool. However, if you do feel inclined to give something, remember you can always give an individual gift or simply buy a nice card for the recipient that expresses only your sentiments.

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