General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Gift giving at work

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dragon_heart:
I ran into this situation in a previous company.

Brief background: The office I work at has no walls that divides our tables into cubicles. Its just desks arranged side by side.
I can stretch my arms sideways and be able to touch my co-workers. It is a medium sized company, with around
20-25 people per department. End background.

During Christmas season, it was common practice for co-workers to give each other small gifts, worth less than $3 each.
The gifts would be left on the desks of the recipient by the giver. The problem was this. The gift giving became the source
of rifts and drama in the workplace.

You see, if co-worker A has a problem or a rift with co-worker B,  she would give a gift to everyone but not give one to co-worker B.
Now it wasn't just co-worker A and B who did this. Almost everyone did. As such, when I arrived for work, I would immediately
notice who got a gift from whom and who did not( due to no cubicle walls ). Just by the gifts alone, I would know that Jane is not
in good terms with Alice and so forth, something I do not wish to have known.

It was awkward after this in the office. I remember asking if I was in high school all over again. Now I know that a gift is a gift,
and it is up to the person who she wants to give a gift to, and it is not anybody's business. But the bad part is that some of
us have to work together and it is difficult to work with someone who you know has a problem with you.

Now I could just ignore all of this and act as if nothing has happened. Our supervisor just ignored the whole thing anyway.
Also I gave gifts to everyone, I preferred the all or nothing approach. I think this is the best way to handle this.
Any thoughts?

AvidReader:
Sounds so "high school" drama and the lingering effects are not very good for morale.  I propose a grab-bag approach.  Each person who wishes to participate brings a gift that is put into a pile or if small enough, a big bag.  Those who brought a gift, may select a gift from the pile or bag. You can draw numbers from a hat/basket to determine the order. The gifts are small and generic and usually less than $10, which if I've done my math correctly, is a lot cheaper than buying a $3 gift for each of 20-25 people.  Typical: a bottle of wine, set wine glasses, small box of upscale chocolates, seasonal decorations or table service items, a store gift card, etc.

POF:
And this is why I banned public gift giving in my departments.  if you want to have a gift exchange - you do it at lunch or after work.  My staff think I am the scrooge - but after dealing with gifting drama - I ended it.

camlan:

--- Quote from: POF on August 24, 2013, 08:50:55 AM ---And this is why I banned public gift giving in my departments.  if you want to have a gift exchange - you do it at lunch or after work.  My staff think I am the scrooge - but after dealing with gifting drama - I ended it.

--- End quote ---

This.

People are giving gifts to their friends. It does not have to be done in the office.

And if people are using the gifts to fan the flames of office drama, which they clearly are in the OP, then the easiest way to deal with the issue is just to ban exchanging gifts in the office.

Aquamarine:
IMHO all gift giving should be done outside of the office environment with the possible exception being a going away gift for a coworker.  Even a going away gift/party would be best done outside of the workplace if at all possible.  I think it's a big mistake many employees make to bring personal celebrations into the workplace, the two should be kept separate.

Never underestimate the ability of even the most benign celebration to degrade into high school mean girl antics in the workplace.

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