We do a lot of our team building workshops as part of team off-sites that clients organize. During the planning of such programs, one of the common questions that we get from organizers is to suggest gifts to give to the team during the offsite. This is trickier than it sounds! I remember talking to a participant during a workshop in Goa, where they had been presented yet again with a Hawaiian shirt! This is what he had to say – “I am not sure why we get these every time we do an offsite. This is the 3rd offsite we are doing in Goa in the past 5-6 years I have been with the company and every year we get the stereotyped Hawaiian Shirt! It has become a joke within the team. The people who organize these meets seem to have absolutely no clue about what we would really like or they don’t spend any time thinking what to give!”
This struck a chord for me as well – giving a gift at a corporate offsite is a good opportunity for a team leader/company to make it one more reason to have fond memories of the overall experience. Yet if we do not apply thought to the whole process, it might actually do more harm than good, the Hawaiian Shirt being the case in point. Here are 4 themes/gifts that you could try out at your next offsite.
- Customized T shirts –Source: Geekwire
All of us have gotten those standard T shirts with the company logo during an annual offsite and gotten tired of the experience. I once heard a participant joke that he looks forward to getting these T shirts so that he can gift them in turn to his driver and house hold help! But if you put some thought into it, even a simple t shirt can be a great memorabilia. We saw a great example of this in a team building program – everyone got a t shirt with their name printed and a message from the entire team. The participants simply loved it! So if you are taking the customized t shirt route, put some thought into why the person would enjoy receiving it. You know your team best, is there some customization that can bring in a Wow to the whole experience of getting a t shirt?
- Photo based memorabilia –
Most conferences get covered extensively by photographers and tons of the media content generated are never used again! They are a treasure trove of ideas for great gifts. For example, if you are doing a 3 day offsite, you could take a team picture on the first day and give a coffee mug with a printed pic on the last day. Post the offsite, you could send a follow up thank you and a yearly calendar with pics from the conference.That would be something that people would keep on their desks for long! Think about it, the options are endless in this space..
- Highlighting the conference theme –
This is a bit more tricky. It starts with having a good theme. Unfortunately companies rely too much on event organizations to give them a theme for the conference without much input from their side. This leads to some real bloopers sometimes. Imagine a conference theme that goes like this “Serving our customers through our solutions” – You, me, the guy at the next traffic signal who sells pirated copies of classic books are all trying to do this – so what? The conference theme has to be something that the team can easily relate to. Invariably, the best themes that we see have a lot of top leadership thought going into it. If this part is done well, choosing a gift for the theme becomes easier. One of the good recent events that we saw had a specific focus on “Speed of Execution” and the leader chose a nice sand clock as a daily reminder to the team about executing quickly! A sand clock is a nice thing to put on your desk at work as well! So next time you are planning an offsite, choose you theme wisely. After that choosing a gift around the theme becomes easier. A book on the theme could also be a good option. Our previous blog on choosing the right book to gift could be useful in planning.
- Personalize, personalize, personalize –Source: Flickr
Even the simplest gift becomes a Wow moment for the receiver if they feel someone has put thought and effort into it. We know of an HR head who organizes an annual event for almost 300 members of the sales team. He ensures that every single person gets a hand written note either from himself or from one member of the leadership team mentioning some special contribution from the individual and thanking them for their support! Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, hand written notes work wonders because nobody writes them anymore! Similarly, there are tons of ideas waiting to be discovered if you put your mind to it. When you are personalizing a gift, do ensure that it ticks either of the two criteria – 1. Does it rekindle a fond memory of the offsite post the event? 2. Is it something that the receiver would keep on their desk/use post the offsite?
Do check out our previous blog for tips in planning a team offsite
If you are planning a team offsite and need help on places to go to, you could out check out our recommended list of locations below as well.
What are some gifting ideas that have worked for you? Do join the conversation.