Don’t Be on the Naughty List

Know the Rules for Holiday Gift Giving

Tis the season for gift giving. But, know the rules for giving and receiving gifts before you commit an ethics violation.

I remember one young Marine gave our Commanding Officer and Executive Officer a day planner for Christmas. Within minutes, the First Sergeant was discreetly asking someone to search the regulations to see if they could accept the gifts. It is one thing to accept a cookie from the office baker but it another to accept a gift that may be considered by others as “sucking up.”

Below is an easy to read guide to keep you from making a faux pas depending on where you work.

Federal Government – gift giving between federal employees is subject to limitation.                                                              giving-gifts-at-work

Do NOT give gifts to your supervisors.

  1. Do not accept gifts from subordinates or other federal employees who make less than you.
  2. Do not ask employees to contribute toward a gift for an official superior.
  3. Always be mindful of the possibility that others may view your gift giving as favoritism.
  4. Be careful someone does not expect a promotion or special assignment because they gave you a gift.

The Exception to the rules – You may accept refreshments, greeting card, or small gift other than cash valued at less than $10 from an employee or coworker. Likewise, employees make accept a gift – not cash – from the public valued up to $20, if all gifts received do not total more than $50 in a calendar year.

https://oge.gov/Web/OGE.nsf/Resources/A+Holiday+Reminder+about+the+Gift+Rules

Large Corporations – know the rules.
  1. Consult your Human Resource Department and employee handbook for guidance.
  2. If gifts are allowed, find out to whom you can give a gift. Know the rules of your office.
  3. Allow people to opt-out of the Secret Santa or gift exchange. Set a clear spending limit and let people know about it ahead of time.
  4. If you receive a gift from a client know if you can keep it and if there are any stipulations on the value of the gift. If you cannot keep the gift due to company ethics policies consult your Human Resources Department on disposal of the gift. Most Human Resource Departments will provide you a list of non-profit organizations to donate the gift. Be sure to send a thank you note and explain the gift was donated. This will let the person know not to send you something in the future.
  5. Consult your manager or Human Resources Department on whether it is appropriate to send a gift to a client.

Remember to be kind. If you know someone is struggling financially do NOT embarrass the person by singling him or her out and presenting them a gift card, cash, or food box containing a holiday meal in front of everyone.

Small Businesses – often treat their employees like family.
  1. Ask your supervisor what is the proper protocol for gift giving.
  2. Pool your spending power if you are buying a gift for the owners. Suggested contribution is $5-$10.
  3. If it is a small office or workplace if you give to one co-worker you should give to all co-workers. Small businesses thrive on having a cohesive work environment. You do not want to make someone feel unwanted by not giving that person a gift.

Instead of buying gifts for everyone you may choose to bake a tray of cookies or your specialty item for everyone to enjoy at work or take home to share with their families.

Don’t let the holiday gift giving fever catch you unprepared. You do not want to get coal in your stocking. Know the ethical guidelines for gift giving for your place of employment.

Jaynine JJ Howard & Associates
Jaynine
JJ Howard & Associates

 

 

 

You, Your Business & Corporate Social Responsibility

corpsocresresponCorporate Social Responsibility is defined as “the obligation of organizations to take an active part in improving society” (Muchinsky & Culbertson, 2016, p. 268). You are probably familiar with Tom shoes and that when you buy a pair of Toms they donate a brand new pair to someone in need. As their company has grown and offered other products to the consumer so has their giving program. In addition to shoes, they now donate eyewear, exams, and surgeries as well as fresh water where needed. What does your business do to help others in need? Do you donate time by volunteering in your community?

Over 90% of Fortune 500 companies run employee volunteering programs. Employers encourage volunteering and provide paid time off to employees who volunteer with nonprofits in their community. As a small business owner, you too can design a corporate social responsibility program. Your community thrives when people step up to volunteer.

Steps to Designing Your Business Social Responsibility Program

1. Review your budget – this means not just money but time. How much time can you afford to offer your employees each week or month to give back to the community through volunteering?

2. Select an organization that aligns with your values or has a mission you want to support. This is a link to get you started http://www.onslowcountync.gov/Administration/VolunteerOnslow.aspx If you do not live in Onslow County you can do an online search for volunteer opportunities in your community.

3. Decide if you will close shop and volunteer as a group or if you will honor individual commitments.

4. Create a simple form to record the employee and volunteer opportunities.

5. Let your customers know what organizations benefit from your Business Social Responsibility Program. Share this information on your website, social media platforms and in a media release. Take photos and share.

Other ways you can be socially responsible is by engaging in environmental sustainability. This means honoring and conserving our natural resources. Does your business recycle soda cans, in cartridges, and used or unwanted equipment? Do you use green products that are environmentally friendly and safe for our water systems? I challenge you to take the time to think about this and see what modifications you can make to how you do business that will not compromise the quality of services you deliver. One way my business is conserving resources is by not printing documents that I want to read. I am a paper junky. However, I am curbing the printing and saving the documents online. Printing client files requires not only the use of electricity, ink, and paper but it also requires the use of cardboard or plastic when storing the files.

I invite you to be a change agent for your industry and business. Adopt a corporate social responsibility program. Give back to your community while conserving resources.