Kathryn McDanielBy Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD

We do a lot of client gifting around here, but since the start of COVID we’ve witnessed a shift towards gifts being sent to employees. It’s a welcome change and really warms our hearts! We get so much feedback about how much they’ve enjoyed the packages. It makes employees happy that their employer showed them gratitude for hanging in there and rolling with the punches amidst all of the uncertainty these days.

The act of putting together these packages got me thinking about why sending thoughtful correspondence like this matters, and why care packages are a useful relationship maintenance tool.

All relationships require maintenance.

BBQ Utensils and moreThis is especially important for long-distance relationships and while we’re working remotely. Care packages can help maintain a relationship over long distances and start new ones for employees that are being onboarded during the pandemic. Research has shown the importance of maintaining relationships for our health and happiness, especially when we’re all feeling so isolated. Relationships that are well maintained are more satisfying – the people in them report higher commitment and like each other more.

Relationship maintenance takes many forms, including open communication and assurances or telling an employee that you care about them. The act of sending a package communicates not only caring, but that you were thinking of them and took time out of your busy life to send them something meaningful. Sending letters containing words of encouragement can communicate emotional support. Sending money or gift cards for restaurants your employee enjoys or stores you know your employee needs to buy things from is a form of tangible support. If you include a handwritten letter or card, sharing this way is engaging in open communication which can help you feel closer to those who are working remotely and can help build and deepen a relationship.

An Example from a Bank

The "staying grounded" care package.One large bank based in Kansas City sent out 2,200 packages to show “Our Heartfelt Appreciation.” They included a locally made personalized face mask to let their employees know “We’ve got you covered,” popcorn so they could “enjoy a virtual pop and popcorn with your team,” and a branded mug with The Roasterie coffee and tea to say “Thank you for staying grounded in our shared commitment to our core values.” I think it was so thoughtful that they also chose all local vendors to execute this project!

Funny story… I got a call last week from a woman who demanded to know why MEDiAHEAD had sent her a box – she was really angry because she hadn’t ordered anything from us! I asked her if she was employed by this particular bank. When she said yes, I told her it was a good thing – her bosses had sent her a lovely “care” package.

The Element of Surprise

Smart Cookie care package.One of the reasons care packages are so satisfying is that they contain an element of surprise at both receiving the package and uncovering what is inside. Surprise for many is a key component of joy. Care packages also require planning and thoughtfulness. Sending one lets someone know you are thinking of them. I LOVE getting a surprise in the mail!

We recently worked with Sheri at Smart Cookies on a project for veterinarians – she baked 3,000 chocolate chip cookies for us in one week. I have to admit that we ate quite a few extras while we were packing, they were irresistible! (smartcookiesbakery.com is another great local vendor). The client wanted to convey “during these tough times, we wanted to reach out and say thank you for all you do for the patients in your care. Enjoy these treats, and know we’re always thinking about you.”

Not Just for Business

Personally, we can also cheer up a friend when they’re down or give them an ego-boost during these trying times. Supportive words like these can be included in a card inside of a care package that you curate for them. Send a friend a coffee shop gift card when you know they need the extra energy boost – care packages are tools for expressing nonverbal affection to complement verbal support you’ve given over the phone or video chat.

My absolute favorite care package last week included home deliveries.

Everyone loves donuts.We just finished a portal for a client and their CMO asked if I would frame the cover of their latest magazine for her team members and deliver it with cards she mailed to me, and coffee and donuts. We had worked on their portal remotely all through the pandemic – they wanted to surprise their sales team at their annual meeting a few weeks ago. It was so fun to see all the team members in person after all those emails and zooms.

While most people are thankful to be employed during a time when so many are out of work, they’re still facing their own unique challenges while working from home; juggling work deadlines, household responsibilities, and even having to attempt to simultaneously home school their children.

Employers know this is stressful and should show their support for how hard their teams are working.

Do you ever receive or send care packages? If yes, have they improved your relationship with the sender/receiver?
Leave a comment below and let me know!

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