Corporate Gifting Trends Are Shifting. Here’s Why.

Online gifting patterns are changing to meet the needs of a hybrid workforce — it’s time to give employees what they really want.
Gauraa at SmartGift
November 29th 2021Nov 29, 2021

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has caused endless disruptions to life as we once knew it. Over twenty months into the pandemic, employees are still facing challenges that come with the transition to remote and hybrid work. According to a recent report from the Society for Human Resource Management, 71% of employees are struggling to adjust to remote work, while 65% are struggling to maintain morale.

Now, as workers continue to leave the safety of steady paychecks in search of happiness and flexibility (the turnover rate in 2021 is a whopping 57%), businesses are tasked with finding innovative new ways to motivate employees to stay. To retain and engage the next generation of talent, more and more employers are looking at personalized workplace recognition strategies.

A survey from Indian e-gifting company eYantra concluded that 74% of companies expect to have at least half of their workforce continue working remotely even after the pandemic. Corporate culture trends show an increase in gifts to keep employees motivated when working from home.

“Revamping gifting strategies is one of the ways in which employers of today’s world can contribute to low attrition rate[s],” says Archana Purohit, the CEO of eYantra. “35% of the workforce today feels valued and appreciated when they receive corporate gifts. Moreover, tailor-made brand merchandise makes employees feel valued, inspires them to work more, and stay loyal to the brand.”

With a substantial percentage of the workforce still working from home, most blue-chip companies have moved funds from events and plugged them into brand merchandising and employee gifting. According to findings from eYantra’s survey, WFH, safety, and fitness are seen as the highest grossing categories in corporate gifting industry trends.

Yet, while corporate gifting is more than crucial in today’s landscape, Blackhawk’s holiday forecast survey has found that 49% of Americans consider employers bad gifters. A significant number of millennial and Gen Z respondents reported that gifts from employers are often underwhelming, and never what they want. To top it all off, not every US employee receives a holiday gift from their employer. According to data from Blackhawk’s survey, only 37% of respondents believe they’ll receive a holiday gift in 2021.

Gen Z and millennial respondents especially value holiday rewards and have reported that they’re less likely to quit a job before the holiday season because they want to claim their gift. To up the stakes, 40% of those Gen Z and millennial respondents said they’d leave their job after the holiday season if they didn’t receive a gift from their employers.

At SmartGift, we understand the importance of the right reward — for the holiday season and beyond. This is why we launched Hero — the ultimate corporate gifting platform for employee and client appreciation. Our team worked hard to perfect a corporate gifting experience that rewards and motivates employees, reduces turnover, and strengthens business relationships — whether your business is remote, hybrid, or in-person.

This year, more than ever before, sending the right corporate gift is vital. With the long-term effects of the pandemic setting in, worldwide supply chain problems, and workplace morale at an all-time low — it’s time to make sure employees get what they want.

To get a better sense of employee mindset, let’s take a look at four categories of top trending gifts in the workplace today.


Today, around 83.7% of employees prefer a personalized gift. eYantra’s study further revealed that 56% of employees feel their employer should understand them like they understand their customers. However, only 39% felt their workplaces were fulfilling this expectation.

While it might be tempting and easy to send the same stock reward to all your employees, it’s important to consider what that strategy might signal to your recipient.

“When we first went remote, our HR department sent us each a box of stale cookies,” shares Steph Boardman, a former agent at a design firm. “It felt like the opposite of a gesture,” she confessed. “It’s not that much different than sending nothing.”

To Boardman’s point, sending a gift isn’t enough on its own; the best corporate gifts need to be truly meaningful to the recipient.

At Hero, our mission is simple: we aim to grow and nurture your business by amplifying company culture through emotional, human connection.

We innately understand the need for personalization, which is why recipients are prioritized in the process of selecting great gifts. Hero enables users to curate a collection from our assortment of premium gifts, or select a pre-made collection and let our Gift Genome™ make data-backed smart recommendations for them. When you gift with Hero, recipients can choose a gift that sparks joy for them, ensuring that the gesture doesn’t go wasted.

Remember: gifting is an opportunity to connect and engage with your employee. Personalization shows that you care about their tastes and preferences, which are extensions of them as human beings.


With the proliferation of Work From Home, and a string of endless days staring at screens, the latest gift trends are veering toward wellness and stress management. While it’s easy to look at self-care as another one of the corporate wellness industry trends, it’s important to think about it from the perspective of remote teams.

Remote employees who have been relegated to their home offices for the past twenty months are looking at gym memberships, health food subscriptions, aroma diffusers, and meditation pillows — which are among this year’s trending holiday gifts.

Wellness looks different for everybody — for some, it’s a twelve-step skin care routine, and for others, it’s a cup of calming tea before bed.

Lindsey Smecker, a trend forecaster with ESP Trendlab, says “Our home has become a sanctuary, a safe space from the outside world. More people are seeking pieces that create a clean aesthetic and soothing ambience.” Smecker emphasizes both function and comfort.

With Hero, you can give the recipient the gift of choice simply by curating a collection from our assortment of wellness products and letting them handpick what they want — from tea to meditation candles. Instead of merely sending them one of the gifts that are trending now, you can send them several trending employee gifts to choose from, and have them decide what’s most meaningful for them.

Sustainable Gifts

Sustainable gifts are on the rise in 2021. According to a recent survey from Packed with Purpose, 53% of respondents said they would be “more delighted” by a gift that had a positive impact.

Lindsey Smecker says, “Overall, we’re finding that consumers are buying less but better. Better quality and better for the environment. The importance of sustainability continues, and there is a general back-to-basics spirit.”

Corporate gifting trends have started motioning toward sustainability, too. “Many employees at large tech or finance companies may not feel that their day-to-day work directly contributes to making the world a better place,” says Leeatt Rothschild, founder and CEO of Packed with Purpose.

“That’s part of the reason these companies have corporate social responsibility departments — to give their employees a sense of purpose. When these companies give their employees an appreciation gift that supports an important social cause, it accomplishes the same purpose.”

As sustainable gifting continues to move forward with corporate responsibility trends, an increasing number of companies are looking to provide employees an eco-friendly recognition experience.

At Hero, we recognize the importance of sustainability, which is why we aim to reduce waste at every step while ensuring low overhead costs for your company.

Not only does Hero eliminate packaging and wrapping with digital delivery, it also minimizes your carbon footprint. Additionally, we encourage corporate regifting capabilities so your recipient has the option of regifting the product to someone else instead of accepting your gift.

With Hero, bad gifts are a thing of the past — we make sure each gift you send gets utilized and no resources (or gestures!) ever go to waste or end up in landfills.

Digital Gifts and Gift Cards

As we inch closer to the holidays, we’re seeing an uptick in digital gifting and gift card trends. “People overwhelmingly want gift cards,” reveals Businesswire. Gift cards give recipients the ability to get what they need or want instead of other forgettable gifts typically sent in bulk by companies. Respondents to the Blackhawk survey also cited the convenience of shopping when and how they want — in-store, online, or via a merchant’s app. The idea here remains the same: crafting a highly personalized experience that lets recipients build their own holiday gift.

The gift card market isn’t the only digital market in demand. According to the Blackhawk survey, digital gifts should also be in the mix especially since 28% of the workforce work virtually part-time in a hybrid model. “Giving digital gifts can ensure that employers reach employees where they are while also letting employees use their gifts in a way that best fits their lifestyle,”' says Businesswire.

Plus, this year, digital gifting is an easy way around ongoing supply chain issues. When you gift with Hero, you can share your gift with your recipient using a single link, getting their holiday gifts on time without having to deal with the logistics of shipping and subsequent delays.

It’s been a tough year for the workplace. With the “turnover tsunami” in motion, an ongoing pandemic, political upheavals, and supply-chain issues, it’s important to make employee morale a priority and wow your team over the holidays. The right holiday present could retain talent, prevent labor shortages, and boost productivity long into 2022.

Together, let’s engage and recognize tomorrow’s workforce.

Check out the SmartGift platform and request a demo for Hero here.

SmartGift’s Corporate Gifting Series focuses on providing workplaces fun, inventive, and appropriate ways to celebrate all end-of-year holidays. Over the forthcoming weeks, we’ll be discussing ideas for corporate holiday parties, gifting etiquette, DE&I initiatives, gifting trends, and more.