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To Give or Receive: A Guide to Crafting a Gifting Policy for Managers, Management Companies, and Boards

06/01/2024 8:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Caitlin Traub, RealManage

Gift-giving in the workplace amongst managers, management companies and vendors can be a thoughtful gesture, but it can also be complicated by the untrue perceptions or lack of understanding where “the line” is. To ensure a positive and ethical environment, management companies need clear gifting policies that managers and our vendor partners understand and abide by. When your company or Board is considering creating a formal policy, here are a few key things to consider:

Who Can We Consider Accepting Gifts From?

  • Vendors: Generally, gifts of minimal value can be accepted, but a clear limit needs to be set (e.g., $25 or less). Food items shared amongst colleagues are usually okay. By communicating a clear limit, it is harder to view these gifts as an item that may influence a business decision.
  • Colleagues: Gifts for birthdays, holidays, or special occasions are usually acceptable, if they abide by the set limit.
  • Superiors: Gifts from supervisors can be perceived as an attempt to unduly influence behavior. Group gifts for special occasions are generally okay, but individual gifts should be discouraged.
  • Direct Reports: In the same way that gifts from direct supervisors can be perceived as an attempt to influence behavior, the same goes for “gifting up,” which for both that reason and general gifting etiquette should be discouraged.

When Can We Accept Gifts?

  • Special Occasions: Birthdays, holidays, work anniversaries, or farewells are appropriate times for gift-giving.
  • As a Token of Appreciation: A small gift can be a nice way to thank a colleague for their help.  
  • Promotional Events: Vendors may offer small gifts at trade shows or conferences.
  • As Part of a Larger Whole: Gifts that are experiences, like a local attraction or event, where the whole team is invited, are often viewed as more acceptable than when only one or two individuals are included.

What Gifts Are Appropriate?

  • Focus on the Thought: A homemade treat or a personalized note is often more meaningful than the cost of the item.
  • Work-Specific Gifts: Gifts related to the recipient's professional interests are generally safe.
  • Experiences: Experiences like a local attraction or event, as mentioned above can be a fun option for the entire team to feel included.
  • Charitable Donations: Consider suggesting donations to a charity in the recipient's name.

What Gifts Are Prohibited?

  • Cash: This can be seen as a bribe.
  • Gifts of Significant Value: A gift, priced above that clearly outlined minimal value can be seen as creating an obligation or conflict of interest.
  • Gifts That Could Be Misconstrued as Personal: Clothing, jewelry, or overly personal items are best avoided.
  • Gifts That Violate the Greater Company Policy or Law: Always check for specific restrictions within your company, our industry or state.

Other Items You May Want to Consider:

  • Transparency: Require employees to disclose any gifts received from vendors or clients.
  • Documenting Gifts: A simple log can track gifts and their value, ensuring transparency and adherence to the policy.
  • When in Doubt, Err on the Side of Caution: Encourage your team to remember that if they are unsure about the appropriateness of a gift, it's best to decline.

By implementing a clear and well-communicated gifting policy, managers, management companies and Boards can foster a culture of ethical behavior and avoid potential conflicts of interest. Remember, the goal is to maintain a professional environment where gestures of appreciation are appropriate without compromising integrity.

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