Gifts are also useful for retaining assistants. With the amount of responsibilities executive assistants have and the amount of information they are privy to, retention should rank high in importance on every executive’s list.
If you are an executive, here are some rules you should know before buying your executive assistant a gift.
1. Know Your Company’s Policies
Every company has their own rules for gifts. So, you should find out: Can you give cash gifts? If yes, is there a limit to how much you can give? Can you give product gifts? If yes, is there a limit to how expensive they can be?
2. Know Your Company’s Politics
In some companies, the rules are not written. They are not legal. They are instead suggested… company politics. So, you also should find out if the other executives at your company give gifts? Some assistants have said they feel uncomfortable being handed a gift in front of others who are not so fortunate or being given a much more generous gifts than other assistants. This can create jealousy.
Also, you, yourself, may feel uncomfortable giving more than a fellow executive or appearing to outdo him/her. It is important to be aware of your company’s politics.
3. Don’t Give Personal Items
Don’t give your executive assistant personal gifts like skincare products, haircare products, cosmetic products, perfume, clothing, or fashion accessories. This rule is especially important if you are a man and your assistant is a woman. Such gifts can suggest something inappropriate like “you should wear more make-up”. Gifts like perfume and jewelry are often associated with romance.
With that said, if you have known your executive assistant for years and have had many conversations on what s/he wants, needs, and thinks about gifts, you can explore more personal options. But always do so with care.
4. Don’t Give Ambiguous Gifts
Gifts should never be given in a way that can be misconstrued. So, do not give gifts near performance reviews or during legal procedures (unless the procedure is lasting many months). Gifts should not give false hope or have tones of bribery.
5. Don’t Give Insensitive Gifts
Do not give gifts that can be considered sexist, racist, or culturally insensitive. Not only can this offend your assistant, it can also get you fired.
6. Don’t Give Work-Related Gifts
Do not give gifts that relate to your assistant’s job in any way (eg. a desk organizer, pen, daily planner, hardware upgrade, chair cushion, app for assistants, professional conference, magazine for assistants). These items should not be given as a gift because they do not provide your assistant non-work-related enjoyment. If you want your assistant to have any of these things, consider giving them as office supplies, upgrades, or amenities instead.
7. Don’t Give Flowers
This rule is more our rule. Flowers are too much of a hit-or-miss. They are beautiful but they can take up a lot of space and attract un-wanted attention. If they do not come in a vase, they force your assistant to find one. And if your assistant takes public transportation or has after-work plans, they become cumbersome. The exception to this rule is if your assistant has expressed a desire for them (for her home since again gifts should be non-work-related).
The bottom line: always take time to think and be considerate before purchasing a gift for your executive assistant.
Gifts are a wonderful way to show appreciation to an executive assistant. They also can demonstrate consideration and care. The right gift can even solidify bonds.