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You're treading in tricky waters if you're a boss looking to give employees a gift on their birthday. What you think is a humorous gift could end being offensive to the recipient (lawsuit, anyone?), overly expensive gifts can give rise to tax burdens (and jealousy among employees) and a cheap and boring gift is... well, cheap and boring. A gift card is always a solid option, but if you want something more creative, explore these ideas:
Beyond the Boring
CBS News created a comprehensive list of gifts that are perfect for employers who want to avoid handing out a bunch of hackneyed gift cards. Their list includes food items like gourmet coffees and chocolates, personalized gift baskets and utilitarian gifts like car organizers and flash drives that have been customized with the company logo. Their other ideas include stress relievers like essential oils or a personal assistant for a day.
Utilitarian or Festive
Utilitarian gifts such as a pen and pencil holder or another desktop essential are welcome, if unexciting. Staplers and paper clips, after all, are just not that much fun. Give your employees something festive that they normally wouldn't buy for themselves. Flowers or a fun bouquet of balloons make for a fun birthday gift, and although they aren't particularly useful, they work like a charm when it comes to boosting morale.
The Taxman Cometh
According to Forbes, the annual limit for tax-free cash gifts in 2013 increased from $13,000 to $14,000. But before you whip out your checkbook and give your employee several thousand dollars, you should note that these rules don't apply to business owners and their employees. If you give an employee cash, he or she will have to pay income tax on it, and you will have to pay tax on it as well. While symbolic gifts like a birthday cake or flowers are exempt from this rule, other gifts may need to be counted as income by your employee, according to Forbes' discussion of gift-giving myths.
Birthdays, Holidays, First Days
Birthdays aren't the only holidays where you might want to give gifts to your employees, but giving gifts on traditional holidays can be complicated from a religious, cultural and legal standpoint. If you want to celebrate your employees, think about giving them gifts periodically on days that are not tied to religious or cultural festivals. Alternatively, give them gifts to celebrate their tenure with the company or to mark special milestones.
Gifts can be a fabulous way to welcome new employees to the fold. Warby Parker, an online eyeglasses store, gives new employees a blend of practical and symbolic gifts when they start. If you can combine value and significance, you have found the holy grail of gift giving, and your employee will thank you for that.Guest post by Erik Wilson. Erik graduated Hofstra University with degrees in finance and management. Now he provides small business solutions in the greater New York area and blogs in his spare time.
College student Richard La Rosa plans an eventual CPA business to support widowed mother and give back to the community. (His father died several months ago.) And after graduation he will get a job to begin supporting his sisters (they quit school in order to earn money to help pay for his education) and his mother. Go to Global Giving https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/help-50-disadvantaged-filipino-youth-earn-diplomas/ and sign up for "Get Updates via Email." From September 1-September 30, Global Giving will accept donations to help Richard and 49 other high school and college students earn their diplomas. I think he'll be an amazing C.P.A. Find Richard's story at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.228973910586738.1073741830.228644093953053&type=1 or read it below (the headings are mine): College student's dad died in May 2013, leaving 8 siblings My name is Richard V. La Rosa, born June 15, 1993, 20 years of age, from Banay Banay 2.0, San Jose, Batangas I‘m a 4th year student in (BSU) Batangas State University, Batangas City, taking up Accounting Management. My mother’s name is Adela M. Virrey-La Rosa, 53 years old and born on September 08, 1959. She is under graduate of elementary and had no work or job as of now since she takes care of my father due to his illness. My father’s name is Melchor L. La Rosa, 57 years old and born on January 06, 1956 . He graduated from elementary and a jeepney driver. Last year he was diagnosed with lung cancer and died on May 08, 2013. We are eight siblings in the family. I am a working student since I was 2nd year high school up to now. But due to my hectic schedule, I worked during Saturday and Sunday only for me to have my transportation fare and school allowance during my school days. Often at end of week no money for food (Pinagkakasya ko po ang pera ko kaya minsan nagbabaon ako ng tinapay o kanin.) You could imagine how I tried to meet both ends on a meager money, so once in a while I simply brought along in school either bread or rice. I really need to have a financial assistance. Because with my busy schedule with my thesis, assignment and others, I need to have an extra income to support all my expenses. My big dream is to be a certified public accountant and this project will fulfill my dream by supporting my schooling expenses. I will find a job right away after graduation to support my family. Sisters quit school to support Richard's education costs I will help my other siblings and support my sisters to continue their studies since they chose to stop in order for me to finish my studies. I also want to have a business of my own for my mother, that can support not only my family but also other people like PSAC and Aral Pinoy were doing. I was so touched the way they help other people. No pretensions, no anything. Is Richard trustworthy? Credible? Then why not give and make his dreams become reality? So, I really need to graduate this April to fulfill my dreams and be someone that my other siblings can rely on. My daily schooling allowance is not enough for Monday until Friday. And I was so thankful that I'm part of Aral Pinoy project and will be a recipient of schooling allowance. I am hoping and praying to God for the chance that I will be selected. (Maraming maraming salamat po.!) Many many thanks!
Office workers spend about 28 percent of their time on the job checking email, according to a 2012 McKinsey Global Institute report. People often refer back to find contact information, check schedules, chat with co-workers or see the status on a particular project. In a large office setting, there may be enough labor hours available to accommodate that much screen time, but for a startup, it represents time spent away from creative planning and customer outreach.
According to Allie Siarto of Loudpixel, a central Kanban board — essentially a white board — divided into four sections: "to-do, doing, done and do later," can save time spent in the search window. Below are five more small business tools that improve productivity and foster growth. Here are a few more suggestions for tools that can boost your small business success.
In the past, it was a rare thing if you didn't see a budding entrepreneur with a BlackBerry cell phone. That has changed with the introduction of other smartphones, but Blackberry will always be a phone that caters to business owners. You can check and respond to emails, view presentations and in newer models even share screens and participate in video conferencing. Entrepreneurs often have to travel, work from home or work non-conventional hours — a business-oriented phone makes a mobile office a reality.
An E-Book Library
Small business owners must be their own bosses and MBA professors. To stay on top of business trends and management techniques, keep a few resources on your phone or reader. You can start with the classics like "The Four-Hour Workweek" and "The Dilbert Principle." Both speak to inefficiencies in the traditional office setting. Scan business blogs and articles for more current additions.
Keeping all important business information on a single PC suggests great trust in that hardware and your own abilities. In the likely event of your computer eventually crashing, it's practical to store information online. Storage is secure and inexpensive. Cubby, OpenDrive and Mozy are all options besides the commonly used starter system Dropbox.
The digitally expanded version of the physical Kanban board, Evernote is a free indexing program that will collect and sort information online into folders. Use it to upload audio, PDFs and images for brainstorming, travel planning and client profiles. Use one notebook for tracking competitors and another to research new markets. More creative types may also want to create a professional Pinterest page. The website works on a similar format but has a social media aspect that allows people to see the things you like and "pin" for later. Get inspiration for new photography settings or grab and share catering recipes.
Harvest and Formstack
Marketing and research may get people in the door, but small businesses depend on reliable payments and the ensuing paperwork. Hourly contractors such as designers or consultants can use Harvest to track their time and show concrete data in their invoices. Use Formstack when collecting both initial prospect information and final payments. By leaving logistics to a specifically designed, cost-effective computer program, you can free up time and energy for the tasks that require creativity and individual talent.Guest post by Megan Peterson, an Internet consultant from Chandler, AZ.