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It’s beginning to look a lot like branded corporate swag

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter where we share the latest tips, tools and insights to help you stay informed about the modern tech office. Today: What tech companies are gifting employees for the holidays, how Tweeps use Twitter and the CEO wage gap.

—Amber Burton, reporter (twitter | email)

In lieu of parties, please send gifts

The idea of a corporate holiday gift was once foreign to some. I, for one, am more familiar with conference-room Christmas parties where the highlight is receiving a white elephant gift from the nearby Duane Reade (blame it on the lucrative field of journalism).

As the pandemic rolled in, companies have leaned more toward sending out elaborate holiday gifts to show appreciation in lieu of swanky holiday shindigs. And the benefits have been twofold: Employees feel recognized by management and no one has to pretend to enjoy their co-worker’s karaoke rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy.”

Holiday gifts from employers might also increase employee engagement. That’s according to a recent survey from Snappy, a personalized corporate gifting company that allows employees to pick their own gifts.

  • The biggest finding? Gifts have the potential to encourage retention. Fifty-nine percent of the over 1,000 survey respondents said “they would be more likely to stay at their job if they received meaningful holiday gifts from their employer.”
  • While some might expect employees to prefer benefits like a bonus or a raise at the end of the year, over half of the survey respondents (52%) said what they were most looking for was appreciation or recognition.

From the looks of it, companies have been listening. Joseph Sommer, president of Whitestone Branding and Aster Gifts, has seen the interest in corporate gifts explode since the start of the pandemic — especially around the holidays.

  • The company, which specializes in corporate gifts, has seen its revenue more than double in 2021 and its growth is up 154% year to date, said Sommer.
  • The reason? Holiday gift budgets have ballooned as corporate event budgets have gotten smaller amidst the pandemic.

Not only have budgets gotten bigger, but the types of gifts employees are receiving have broadened. Gone are the days when you would simply get a mug with your company’s logo slapped on the side.

  • According to Sommer, clothing reigns supreme. Holiday apparel gifts have been the most popular, including everything from Arc’teryx and North Face jackets to ugly sweaters.
  • Sommer shared they have also gotten a sizable number of requests for full-piece onesies. (I mean, on Zoom, who’s going to know?)
  • Overall, what’s popular as gifts for tech employees has remained relatively the same over the years. Sommer refers to this as the “Swag Five”: the traditional piece of apparel; a journal; a tech accessory like a power bank or a PopSocket; a water bottle; and a bag, tote or backpack.
  • Redemption sites, much like what Snappy offers, have also become popular this year. Employers are able to set up a site where employees can pick a gift that they actually like. “They’re customized to be on brand to the businesses that we're working with and they really allow their people to have a selection of what they would want to receive, which is just a little bit more personal,” said Sommer.

These are not your parents’ corporate gifts. Sommer is also seeing more items tailored to people working from home. When Protocol spoke to him, he mentioned that Whitestone had just sold 500 Google Nest Hubs to a company for its employees.

So what shouldn’t you get your employees for the holidays this year? Gift cards. Fifty-six percent of people said they forgot to use a gift card or lost one before ever redeeming it, according to Snappy’s survey. Save that Olive Garden gift certificate for the cousin twice removed you forgot you were seeing over the holidays.

How Twitter uses Twitter

For the latest in Protocol’s series of “How Tech Uses Tech,” Michelle Ma took a look at how Twitter uses Twitter. Or how Tweeps use Twitter? Michelle wanted to know more about how Twitter is used by the people who actually work there, and how others can make the most of the platform. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. For one, if you use an animated GIF, you are an old, shared Alphonzo “Phonz” Terrell, the global head of Social and Editorial at Twitter, who is responsible for Twitter’s tweets. His other insights? Some teams at Twitter do a lot of their work and communication through Twitter DMs rather than Slack or email. They’ve found it helpful for brainstorming.

Read the full story here.


While we were all Zooming, the Zoom team was thinking ahead and designing new offerings that could continue to enable seamless collaboration, communication and connectivity while evolving with the shifting workplace culture. Protocol sat down with Yuan to talk about Zoom's evolution, the future of work and the Zoom products he's most excited about.

Learn more

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Here’s an inside look at what your tech workers actually want for the holidays.

Today's tips and tools

Last week, Workplace reporter Anna Kramer crowdsourced some of Protocol’s favorite extensions and bots in her love letter to developers making weird things on the internet. Some of these quirky tools are so useful that I wanted to highlight them here for you as well.

  • If you type that little phrase into your browser, you’ll see a brand new Google document.
  • Video speed controller: Easily slow down, speed up or rewind any video you’re watching with this extension.
  • Delete those tweets: TweetDelete helps you delete tweets in bulk.
  • Jam out: To red (taylor’s version) bot on Twitter. Or the Moby Dick line generator, if that’s more your speed.

— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (twitter | email)

Will the Great Resignation follow us into the new year?

The latest survey by talent marketplace Gloat suggests that the Great Resignation will likely follow us into 2022. Bad news for all those who were ready to leave the industry buzzword behind. But just like the pandemic, some things appear to be hard to shake. The survey polled over 1,000 workers in November and revealed that a sizable number of people are still considering leaving their jobs for other companies. Here are some of the most interesting findings.

  • Almost half of the respondents (48.1%) said they currently are, or will be, looking for a new job in the next three months. In addition, 42.8% of workers said they are looking for new roles outside of their current companies.
  • Nearly 66% of people who are looking for roles outside of their current companies said “better opportunities” is the main reason they are looking for new roles.
  • A large number of people still don’t feel valued in their jobs. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they feel their organization doesn't take their future or aspirations into account enough, according to Gloat.
  • Essentially, more people want purpose in their jobs today and it doesn't look like that will go away. Almost 62% of workers surveyed said they now “believe it is very important for their work to align with their values, passions, and interests.”

Around the internet

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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to Have a great day, see you Thursday.

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