It’s nearly the festive season folks, which — if you’re lucky — might mean you’re looking forward to some time off work or a hefty Christmas bonus to treat yourself this merry month (one can dream). But for some, the end of the year means awkward Secret Santa trades and the worst corporate Christmas gifts known to man.
Coles — which raked in a massive profit of $1.1 billion after tax — announced earlier this month that it would reward its frontline staff (who have endured ever worsening verbal abuse and draconian surveillance amid its growing revenue) for their gruelling work with… Coles branded water bottles and the equivalent of $5. Oh, and a small discount on some Coles products. Neat.
The gift was obviously dragged to hell and back for being stingy, useless and downright insulting. And the saddest part is this is surely the first of a wave of shitty Xmas gifts employees will receive this season.
Dalton (whose name has been changed for privacy reasons) used to work at a real estate agency in Sydney. He told PEDESTRIAN.TV that the company raked in record profits while he and his colleagues were “overworked, underpaid and doing multiple roles beyond our job description to sustain the small business”. As a supposed thank you for working multiple unofficial roles for no extra pay, Dalton received a $15 Coles platter.
“It felt like a slap in the face,” he said.
Bella, whose name has also been changed, told us that she received “a bottle of expensive alcohol” for Christmas from her employer, even though her bosses knew she didn’t drink. As someone who also doesn’t drink, you’d be shocked at how many times I’ve been offered alcohol as a gift, reward or incentive by an employer.
Every year, more stories of weird, random and downright offensive Christmas gifts from bosses to employees make the rounds, so let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the most cooked ones, shall we?
The worst Christmas gifts bosses have actually given to their employees
A study conducted by corporate gifting program Snappy in 2019 surveyed 1,000 workers about what Christmas gifts they had received and the answers were a doozy.
Some of the ridiculous gifts employees said they received included:
- Tickets to the CEO’s son’s baseball game
- A toy horse
- A book on how to be better at their job
- A potato
- Old lollies in a USED mug
- Foot lotion
- “Fart in a glass”
- A broom
- The Bible
- Quail from a boss’s hunting trip
The list goes on, and it looks like since then things haven’t improved.
In a 2022 Reddit thread in the subreddit r/anti-work, workers shared the worst gifts they had received from employers. WARNING: side effects of reading this thread include high blood pressure and an urge to fight someone.
“My mom’s boss gave everyone a pen (a really crappy, normal pen) with their names printed on normal white printer paper that was scotch taped down the side of the pen,” one person wrote.
Another said they were given “a pair of snowmobile gloves”, even though they didn’t own a snowmobile, and one person said they were given dog treats even though they didn’t have a dog. The same thing happened to someone who was given a $5 Target voucher despite not having a Target in their town.
“A $5 Starbucks gift card,” another person shared.
“The closest Starbucks is 110 miles (176 km) away.”
I’m sensing a pattern here.
One user said they received a $50 gift card, which was then deducted from their pay-cheque the following month. So, really they got $0.
Another boss actually decided to give gendered gifts, which is always disastrous.
“The men all received a bottle of craft whiskey, even the one guy that is a recovering alcoholic,” the employee revealed.
“The women? We all received an autographed photo of Patrick Dempsey.”
Of course, there were also food-related gifts, which offend me the most because they are the easiest to get right.
“I don’t drink and almost never show anger,” one person wrote.
“They gave each of us a bottle of wine with a wine glass that had different sayings they said were specifically chosen for each of us. They gave me the one that said ‘if you touch my wine I’ll punch you in the throat’. This is at a health care company that provides care to disabled children.”
Another person said they were given ham.
“I’m vegetarian and some of my coworkers are kosher,” they said.
Another recalled that their manager “left out a pie tray covered in tin foil with a handwritten note saying, ‘Thank you, team, for all your hard work!’”
When they lifted the foil expecting a pie, they realised their boss had “just poured some saltine crackers in an empty pie tray.”
If you thought these bad Christmas gifts couldn’t get worse, you were wrong. Some were so insensitive, I could feel HR managers everywhere gag in their seats.
According to a Hello Print blog post, a woman said she received pads (as in, for menstruation) as a holiday gift, which a male boss watched her and other female colleagues unwrap. He then commented that he hoped he got them their preferred brands. EW.
And now, the winner of the worst corporate gift ever in the history of the planet goes to the employer of this Redditor, who said: “Not a holiday present but I did win a notebook at work that said, ‘Walk 10,000 Steps For Someone Who Can’t’. I am in a wheelchair lol.”
And so it’s with these sombre stories that we march into December. If you’re a boss and you’re reading this, for the love of God, just give your employees some money or time off. Trust me, nothing else is worth it.