Sep 29, 2022

5 Meaningful Last Minute Holiday Gifts your Employees Actually Want

As a people leader, you likely know that finding the perfect holiday gift to please all your employees is no easy feat. We get it; you want to give a gift that is personal, speaks to your company’s brand

and recognises the hard work your employees have contributed all year long. It’s no secret that the pandemic and inflation have contributed to employee burnout and personal and professional stress, making spreading some holiday cheer more important than ever.

Don’t gift another ugly mug


If you want to be a smart gifter, you have to understand what the recipient wants and needs. Receiving a bad gift—or worse, not getting a gift at all—sends the wrong message to your staff. In fact, a Blackhawk Network study found that almost half of employees think their employers are bad gifters and only 28% of employees believe they’re getting a gift at all. It’s not all doom and gloom though; the good news is that 4 in 10 employees would consider joining a new company if they were to give out holiday gift cards. This number is even higher with younger employees, with 38% of Gen Z and 37% of millennials stating they would consider joining a new company if they were to give out holiday gift cards.

So how do you become a smart gifter? Give employees what they want.

Gift smart: Digital gift cards and rewards


These days, employees are pretty internet savvy. Employees look for flexibility and choice in their gifts, and with so many people shopping online, they want instant gratification.

In fact, a study by Blackhawk Network found that digital payments and contactless payments accelerated three years ahead of expectations. This same study revealed that 72% of people find it appropriate to receive a digital gift card during the holidays, with millennials and Gen Z reporting this sentiment at 77%.

With many employees being mobile-minded, going digital with your holiday gifts is the smart choice. Not only have employees rated gift cards and prepaid cards as the #1 holiday gift for 16 years in a row (81%) above other choices like an inflation bonus (39%), extra vacation days (37%), food (34%) and office parties (17%), but you get to reap the benefits of convenience, bulk ordering and free shipping.

So, what types of gifts do employees prefer? Read on to learn about the top-rated employee gifts so you can get them exactly what they want.

  • Mastercard®, eftpos or Visa® prepaid cards

Mastercard, eftpos or Visa prepaid cards are the #1 requested reward by employees. They offer employees the most choice as they can be redeemed at all major retailers. If you’re looking for a gift that is delivered instantly and provides the most flexibility to your employees, consider purchasing the Virtual Prepaid VISA. Not only do they offer quick and contactless delivery (and no shipping fees), but you can purchase them in bulk. Digital cards also offer the same customisation options as our physical cards, so you can add your company logo, employee name to truly recognise each employee.

  • Merchant gift cards and multi-brand gift cards

Rated as #2 on the list, merchant and multibrand gift cards give employees the freedom to choose their own gift. Multibrand gift cards in particular give employees the ultimate flexibility. With multiple restaurants, retail and entertainment brands on one card, your employees can eat out, go to the movies and shop with loved ones—all in one day. In fact, Blackhawk Network found that 73% of people want to purchase gift cards to be used at multiple retailers. When you give your employees choice, they’ll associate you with a fun holiday outing with loved ones or a well-deserved self-care day.

  • Grocery store cards

With inflation at an all-time high, some employees prefer receiving practical gifts to purchase everyday essentials. Whether your employees use these cards to purchase items for a holiday meal or to offload the cost of the regular grocery bill, they will likely feel that their employer cares about them.

  • Restaurant gift cards

Do you enjoy eating and good banter? Do you know someone else that likes to eat and laugh? With many people favouring experiences over physical items, it’s no surprise that restaurant gift cards rank #4 on the list. Consider giving a gift card that can be used at multiple restaurants, like the Gourmet Traveler card.

  • Amazon gift cards

Choice is a major factor in how employees rate gifts, so it’s no surprise that online retailer gift cards like Amazon or eBay gift cards are ranked as #5 on employees’ wishlists. Gifting an Amazon card lets you meet your employees where they are: online. Online shopping has become so common that 33% of Gen Z and millennials plan to buy their holiday gifts online this year, and 60% of these generations would rather receive a gift card and shop for themselves. Whether your employees want to treat themselves to a luxury item or do some last-minute shopping for family and friends, this gift card can meet their needs.

Gift Smart: Recognise your employees with the gift of choice. For more last-minute holiday gift cards, check out our full range of gift cards here.

Source: 2022 Holiday Branded Pay Study, Blackhawk Network, 2022