Companies reshape holiday giving 

    DaThe days of corporate Christmas gift baskets full of peppermint bark and hot chocolate may be heading out the door as companies begin to use the holiday season as a branding opportunity and a means to reach out to employees. 

    Stafford Wood, co-founder of the Baton Rouge-based marketing firm Covalent Logic, says some of the best corporate Christmas gifts to clients are those that reinforce the company’s brand. For Covalent this year, that meant a custom Rubik’s cube with wrapping carrying the company’s message of helping “solve puzzles” for their clients. 

    “Part of it is about having people remember your gift,” Wood says. “During that time of the season, companies are getting all sorts of pecans and fruit. When (the gift) becomes something that you attach to your company’s brand, it becomes a reinforcement of who gave it to them.” 

    Corporate holiday spending has been dramatically increasing by as much as 30% to 40% over the past three to five years as consumers demand personalization, Carey Guglielmo, president and owner of AST E-Commerce, says. 

    This year, too, a larger portion of holiday spending has been split between the gift and the packaging it comes in, Wood says. Standardized items are no longer acceptable in the corporate gift-giving world. 

    “The consumer is getting more and more demanding. They want products that are emotional to them and not a ‘me too’ product,” Guglielmo says. 

    Gifts like handpicked, autographed creative books unique to a company’s message or a curated experience like a cooking class with a local chef or culinary institute are just some examples. 

    “To me, that’s what a gift is; it’s not just about the recipient, it’s also about the giver. All relationships share that in common,” Wood says. 

    For employees, the most common gifts are still holiday bonuses, Jennifer Anderson, a labor and employment attorney with Baker Donelson, says. 

    At the same time, companies are starting to pick up on a new trend of giving their employees more time off around the holidays, or refining time-off policies to allow for flexible paid time off like parental and sick leave, Anderson says. 

    “What I’ve noticed with companies is many of them, when reviewing time-off policies, they are modernizing them, building in forms of paid time off that we haven’t seen in the past,” she says. 

    That’s a trend that’s taken hold across the country, including by local-level governments. 

    Baker Donelson gathers their employees and corporate clients for an annual 12th Night party after the new year—a spin on the traditional annual holiday party—and hosts holiday luncheons for all employees and their families as part of a larger trend for companies to do things that are more “meaningful and inclusive,” Anderson says. 

    “The people at the highest ranks need to directly express appreciation to the folks on the ground running things day-to-day,” she says. 

    Editor’s note: Baker Donelson was misspelled in an earlier version of this story. Daily Report regrets the error. 

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