Just what senior managers always wanted – a compliance complaint after the holiday season. Gift giving and receiving is a corporate minefield, from ill-judged secret Santa presents that cause offence to employees, to over-lavish Christmas entertainment from existing or would-be suppliers.
Better be safe than sorry
It’s very difficult to take away a gift that’s already been given, or rescind an invitation acceptance, so the best approach is to make sure everyone is aware in advance of what is and isn’t acceptable. Monitoring for bribery and corruption by regulators is getting more rigorous, and a culture of freebee acceptance points to lax corporate governance.
So before the holiday season starts in earnest, make sure that gifting policies are up to date and encourage questions from staff. Take into account that global operations cross many cultures and the reasons for not giving or accepting certain gifts need to be clearly stated.
The public sector faces separate policies
In the public sector, pretty much anything more exotic than a biro and a mouse pad needs to be run past senior managers. The situation is more complex where contractors are employed, and their company provides a christmas party to which public employees are invited. The rule here is that if the procurement has already taken place and no more contracts are at stake, the public sector employees may attend provided the hospitality is not over-lavish.
In the private sector there’s a little more leeway, but far less than there used to be in the days, when the week before christmas, businesses were awash with cases of wine, bottles of champagne, and expensive chocolates, all provided by suppliers.
With the Christmas party to supervise as well, most executives breathe a sigh of relief when the whole thing is over and they can go home for a glass of (ungifted) wine.