I’m not sure if I’ve ranted here before. So, mark this day on your calendars, well into my third year blogging I’m going to drop my fist rant on gift giving. It a topic that’s been burning a hole in the back of my mind for a few weeks now. It was sparked by an event at work, I’ll get to that later, but first a bit more on the act and my own history with giving gifts.
I think I’ve always been a fan of receiving gifts. I mean who doesn’t like to be given something out of the blue with no strings attached. Growing up in a large family. I’m the youngest of five, the holidays were always a big deal with lots of family around and plenty of gifts.
At some point the receiving switch flipped to giving. Don’t get me wrong I still enjoy the occasional gift receiving, but found out giving gifts to others was just as good or even better experience. I once gave some good friends a brand-new television as a housewarming gift after winning some money playing blackjack in Atlantic City. That’s a story for another day.
Better to give than to receive, gift-giving is also an act of altruism — unselfish concern for the well-being of others. When we give without expecting anything in return, we are improving our psychological health.
Gift giving can be a slippery slope too if not budgeted properly. My wife and I had to scale back our gift giving while cleaning up out debt, and even today being debt free we are diligent about how we spend money on gifts for others.
Are Co-Worker Gifts an Oxymoron?
The words co-worker’s gifts reminds me of jumbo shrimp, kind of contradictory. For years, I was a good co-worker and pitch in for the bosses gift each year, often not even having a say in the matter, just hand over my money, sign the card, and smile.
This whole practice rubbed me the wrong way, even more so when we were struggling with debt. I just didn’t want to be that guy, the only one who didn’t chip in for the boss’s gift. It didn’t feel voluntary more like an obligation and it certain did not fit the bill of being better to give than to receive.
One year during the holidays one of my co-workers came to me and just told me I owed her twenty-five dollars. I inquired for what? Well we decided to buy the boss… and it’s been sent already, your name is on the card, we split it five ways and you own $25. I replied with thank you for spending my money and still handled over the cash.
I just hate the whole process, I feel obligated and it feels dirty.
Gift Giving that Sparked this so-called Rant
Just recently the CIO of my currently company announced that he’s be leaving. He’s been with the company for about three-year. I’ve been there a little over a year. This CIO has been the most transparent leader I have ever worked for. He holds quarterly meeting and recognizes his employee, giving away gift cards, and prizes. He held skip level meeting where he skips his direct reports, and meet with their staff to hear their concern.
If there was an issue within the company you e-mailed him directly for escalation, no chain of command, red tape, or bureaucracy bull crap. He’d walk around say hello, ask questions, or for help in needed. It was refreshing to work with him.
When he made his announcement, a farewell was planned. An opportunity to say a few last works and have some a little cake and coffee. Once set e-mails were sent to ask the staff if they would like to contribute for a gift for him. I immediate said to myself I’m in.
It was all in the way it was presented for me. As a voluntary gift for a great guy and I’m in. But as the e-mail made the rounds it was if the CIO himself were lighten people’s cubicles on fire. Co-workers began to complain about the e-mail, the it was insulting to be asked for a gift, why would we give a gift to someone who’s leaving.
I was really taken back by these comments, so I ask one of my other co-workers who was not having a melt down over the e-mail, why were people having this type of reaction. It seems the CIOs contract was public record and his salary was easily obtainable. So, I looked it up to see what the fuss was about. He was making north of $350K a year. So, for his three-year stint a bit over a million dollar.
That seems to be the issue many of my co-workers had with the gift ask for his departure. Now I get it, these co-workers are making far less than $350K, but who’s fault is that? The CIO was in the office at 6AM and well after all of us left. Sure, he has a much higher salary, but was spending many more hours a day and had a bigger responsibility.
Even after knowing his salary, not chipping in for his going away gift never crossed my mind.