Startup lands $10M investment to give gifts employees really want

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Goodbye cliché watch. This new digital platform lets workers choose their own anniversary gifts.

Corporate gift giving to celebrate that promotion or closing of the deal is getting a reboot at HR departments from corporate gifting platform Snappy, which has created a digital platform for employers to give their workforce gifts they actually get excited about — by letting employees choose their own rewards.

The New York-based enterprise acquired $10 million in funding from global venture capital firm 83North and investment group Hearst Ventures this week to expand the gifting service to companies. More than 100 corporations use Snappy, including eye care company Visionworks, technology start-up Digital Ocean and meal prep provider Home Chef.

The Labor Department reported 3.3 million American workers voluntarily quit their jobs as of May. One of the top 10 reasons employees choose to quit is lack of acknowledgement or appreciation, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. It’s easier, and more cost efficient, to make employees feel appreciated through gifts than monetary incentives, like bonuses. A study by the Journal of Economic Psychology said it takes twice as much money as the cost of a gift to boost employee happiness.

"Sometimes, even small things that demonstrate thought and care can have the greatest impact," says Matt Hoffman, vice president of people for DigitalOcean, one of Snappy's clients. "We expect a lot from our employees and are always looking for ways to show that their work is appreciated. Partnering with Snappy allowed us to select gifts that have both personal and organizational meaning for employees, which is always the most powerful way to recognize them."

Employers are using more and more services like Snappy as part of their employee wellness plans. Companies use Snappy to boost engagement by rewarding workers for meeting goals and deadlines, in addition to celebrating work anniversaries.

“Gift cards are impersonal and place a monetary value on someone’s worth,” says Hani Goldstein, CEO and co-founder of Snappy. “We wanted to do something fun that would make employees feel special.”

Snappy is a digital platform that can be accessed by email and text messages. There’s no membership fee to participate; companies sign up online and are billed for each gift given. Gifts range from $15 to thousands of dollars, and include retail items like small kitchen appliances, jewelry, cameras and drones, or experiences like massage sessions and cruises.

The platform lets employees choose gifts from a list of items within a price range selected by the employer; employees never see the price tag.

“Recipients click on the link and it takes them to a place where you can scratch our logo like lottery card using a computer mouse or finger to see a featured gift. The employee can accept that gift or choose something else within the same price range,” Goldstein says. “It’s actually a lot of fun and the process is painless.”

HR professionals said they’ve seen improvements in employee morale since incorporating Snappy into their company wellness plan.

“Snappy provides such a wide variety of options for our diverse culture. This perk has helped with talent retention initiatives,” says Saralynn Malott, head of people at Le Tote, a fashion subscription company."

Snappy can also create a tailored gift list based on each company’s culture and theme.

“Digital Ocean asked us to create something special for their holiday event, so we created a list with things like beach towels, plush sharks and underwater cameras,” Goldstein says. “They absolutely loved it.”

Snappy’s investors said current economic conditions favor job seekers, which is why more employers are focusing their attention on programs designed to increase workplace satisfaction — to retain talented employees.

"It's never been more important to retain exceptional talent, and, as employee demand for recognition grows, the market for the solution that Snappy provides is unprecedented," says Ken Bronfin, Hearst Ventures senior managing director and head of international investments. "Not only has Snappy identified an underserved market, but the accelerated growth of the company proves that when done correctly, employee appreciation and gifting is vital for companies."

Snappy helps HR teams keep track of gifts and stay on budget, but the platform also has a chat function that let’s employees send thank you notes to their HR team for their gifts.

“Not only is our program friction free, I hear HR loves receiving thank you notes from employees saying they love their jobs,” Goldstein says.

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Employee engagement Employee retention Employee communications Employee relations HR Technology