New American Express Survey Reveals Business Gifting Trends This Holiday Season

Businesses will be giving employees gift cards more than any other category of gift this year, according the new American Express Business Gifting survey. The study, which surveyed both companies and employees, reveals how businesses plan to say thank you to employees and clients and celebrate this holiday season, and what employees expect and want for their year-end treats.

The overwhelming majority of surveyed companies (92%) say they will be giving year-end gifts to their employees, and employees may be pleasantly surprised, since only 64% expect a gift from their employer.

For companies choosing to give individual employee gifts at year-end, gift cards are at the top of the list (42%), followed by spot cash bonuses (37%), company products (35%), food/food baskets (26%), merchandise (25%), and time off (24%).

From the employee perspective, gift cards rival a day off as a desirable gift, and are bested only by cash and time off. In fact, a gift card is twice as exciting as companywide recognition, and nine times more exciting than dinner with the boss, according to survey respondents. In order of importance, employees most want cash (44%) as their year-end gift, followed by time off (17%) and gift cards (15%).

End-of-year rewards and incentives have become a significant part of American business culture, said Stefan Happ, general manager, American Express Gift Cards. American Express fast-expanding portfolio of corporate giving-themed gift cards has given companies the flexibility they need to recognize good work among business units, teams and individual employees.

Its Party Time

Another way companies plan to reward employees this holiday season is through special end-of-year activities. Of the surveyed companies, 86% are planning such an event. Three out of four companies will mark the holidays with team lunches, dinners and special events. About half say they will host an in-office party (53%), and an almost equal number (51%) will host a party at a hotel or party space. Many companies (46%) will extend party invitations to spouses and friends. Beyond holiday parties, many employers are planning group activities such as volunteering in a soup kitchen (43%), and gift exchanges (41%).

Employees have mixed feelings about the year-end holiday parties. Twenty-seven percent of respondents working at a company that hosts a holiday event say they find these parties fun and interesting, nearly half say they can take it or leave it (48%), and small numbers believe that company parties are either the event of the year (4%), or are to be avoided at all costs (4%).

Clients Most Likely to Receive Card or Calendar at Years End

When it comes to end-of-year recognition of clients and customers, fourteen percent of surveyed companies will give their client a gift card.

Gift cards provide a convenient way to say thank you for your business, said Happ. American Express corporate gift cards introduced this year allow companies to customize cards for customers.

Most managers of medium- and large-sized companies are given guidelines in selecting gifts for their clients (62%), according to the survey. Four in ten (40%) are guided on how much to spend on their clients, and 19% are offered guidelines on preferences (personal vs. desk-based). The average amount spent on a client gift this year is $38.50.

In the Season for Giving, Should Employees Get Their Boss a Gift?

Employees are split on whether to get their bosses a holiday gift. Forty eight percent say its not a good idea. Of those, 22% say it is inappropriate, 13% say a gift from employees is not wanted by the boss, and 13% say getting the boss a gift is kissing up. Nearly half (47%) think sending the boss a gift is okay. Of those respondents, 28% say it is due to the nature of their working relationship with their boss, 11% that their boss is their friend, and 8% because they think it is expected.

Survey Methodologies

The American Express survey on employee incentives and corporate gifting was done in two parts. It includes a telephone survey administered between October 10 and October 24, 2007 among 501 Human Resource Managers working for a company with 100 or more employees. Interviews were completed in proportion to the U.S. Census regions. The survey reached out to both medium and large sized companies 286 HR executives working for companies with 100 to 250 employees and 215 working for companies with 250 or more employees.

To reach employees, a second survey was conducted via telephone among 511 employees working for a company with 100 or more employees. This nationally representative survey was administered between October 10 and October 24, 2007 and in proportion to the U.S. Census regions. The survey reached out to employees of both medium- and large-sized companies 126 employees working for companies with 100-250 employees and 385 working for companies with 250 or more employees. Each survey was administered by International Communications Research and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

About American Express

American Express Company ( is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.

American Express is a leader in consumer prepaid products. In addition to the 116-year old American Express Travelers Cheque - the preeminent brand welcomed worldwide - the Company issues other prepaid products including Cheques for Two, Gift Cards, Gift Cheques, and a range of corporate incentive prepaid products through American Express Incentive Services.

The American Express Gift Card can be redeemed at U.S. retailers and restaurants that accept the American Express Card. It lets the recipient choose from millions of things and experiences, making it the ideal solution for the upcoming holiday season -- unlike store gift cards, instead of one place, the American Express Gift Card is good all over the place and gives endless ways to make everyone happy. The Gift Card is available in denominations ranging from $25 to $500 and is replaceable if lost or stolen for a fee. American Express Gift Cards are available online at, and nationwide at tens of thousand of locations, including supermarkets, drug stores, shopping centers, banks and American Express Travel Service offices. For a complete list of participating locations visit Terms and conditions apply to gift cards. Not for use at car rental, cruise lines, casinos or ATMs.


American Express
Robert A. Sherman, 212-640-6221
M Booth & Associates
Dana Kopp Hudon, 212-481-7000

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