Case Study
0 min read

Let Them Pick: Kaiser Permanente Sees Employee Engagement Soar With Gifts They Could Pick

September 19, 2023
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Doling out hundreds of employee appreciation gifts is an inherently joyful — and terrifying — moment. On one hand, it’s a time when employers get to surprise and delight everyone on board while strengthening bonds and boosting their corporate culture. 

But on the other hand, if the gifts miss the mark or don’t resonate with everyone, employers run the risk of souring relationships and leaving people feeling unappreciated and downright disrespected. (Plus, one bad gift is enough to rip open the spigot of negative comments and social media posts.)

In a 2019 study by the Ad Specialty Institute, it was discovered that a mere 21% of corporate gifts are kept by recipients, with 23% of gifts being tossed into the garbage. However, the coronavirus pandemic shifted the tides of corporate gifting, and the trend of infrequent, low-quality corporate gifts (lookin’ at you, chip clips) was replaced by higher-quality, more intentional gifts given more often. In short, gifting has turned from a task to check off the to-do list into a worthwhile investment.

Kaiser Permanente is one of thousands of companies that have sought to refresh and re-energize their gifting strategy, and National Nurses Week 2023 was the perfect time to unveil a gifting experience that guaranteed happiness. 

Problem: Showing Employee Appreciation at Scale

Kaiser Permanente is a leading healthcare provider in the US with a massive network of physicians, nurses, and health professionals across nearly 700 hospitals and medical facilities. Sourcing and sending gifts to employees, even when split into regions, is an undertaking that can seem overwhelming without the right tools or resources.

When one region of the Kaiser network sought to level up its gifting game for National Nurses Week 2023, there was one overarching question: How? 

A “successful” corporate gifting campaign is one that’s engaging and elicits feelings of appreciation, respect, trust, and loyalty across recipients, all without even the faintest whiff of being transactional. 

When employee appreciation gifts hit the magic trifecta of 1) intentional, 2) personal, and 3) quality, gifting success usually follows. So when it came to showing genuine appreciation and care to thousands of nurses through gifting, Kaiser needed to find a solution that could strike the trifecta at scale (and without breaking the bank).

A three-way Venn diagram. One circle says "intentional," one says "personal, and the third says "quality," and the middle intersection says "Best Gift Ever!"

Solution: Finding the Perfect Gifting Partners

With the goal of showing nurses authentic appreciation and connecting in a memorable way during a week fully devoted to celebrating them, the team at Kaiser knew it couldn’t send out generic, low-quality gifts. 

In lieu of the typical roster of promotional products, Kaiser worked closely with Giften Market, a gift box brand devoted to intentional gifting, to assemble a nurse's appreciation gift to remember. 

While the squad at Giften Market could curate the perfect gift, they knew that the gifting experience had to be just as thoughtful. In order to send thousands of gifts complete with memorable digital unwrapping and opportunities to personalize the experience from branding to gift notes, Giften Market tapped Zest as the tool to tackle the job.

Zest’s e-gifting functionality not only made sharing gift links, gift redemption, and address collection a breeze at scale, but it also presented an even greater opportunity for Kaiser: Choice Gifts.

With Choice Gifts, Kaiser expanded their gift offering from a single one-size-fits-all gift to five thoughtfully curated gift boxes from which recipients could pick. The variety of gifts appealed to more people, from foodies to animal lovers, which means more engaged, happy employees. 

A GIF showing Kaiser Permanente's digital gift unwrapping experience. A virtual gift opens up to show the recipient the gift they'll eceive.
The digital unwrapping experience.

When gifting goes poorly, and the majority of gifts are either rejected or thrown away, it’s typically because it’s a low-quality gift or one that simply doesn’t resonate with the recipient. By thoughtfully selecting five gifts to offer to nurses this year, more recipients were able to pick something they would genuinely enjoy and use — which is kind of like a gift in itself. 

Alongside the curated options, Zest fueled the seamless and enjoyable gifting experience and empowered Kaiser to include personalized gift notes with each gift for the perfect touch. 

As for the people sending the gifts, using Zest as their gifting platform also created a more positive experience for them. Many of the logistical headaches typical of gifting campaigns at this scale were erased through popular Zest features like digital gift notes, flexible digital gift delivery, and recipient address collection (read: no one had to manage or update a massive spreadsheet with every recipient’s best shipping address for days on end).

Giving employees a choice is a relatively novel experience, and it’s one that won’t soon be forgotten. So, how did this revamped gifting campaign resonate with recipients? Let’s find out.

Results: The Power of Choice Propels Gifting Success

Kaiser’s laser focus on offering intentional gifts through a seamless gifting experience was received better than anyone expected. While the team leading this initiative estimated that the variety of gifts coupled with a tech-first, user-friendly platform would trigger a better response than previous years, the results blew everyone’s expectations out of the water.

Through the unique combination of Giften Market’s curated gifts and Zest’s intuitive experience, Kaiser Permanente: 

  • Beat gift acceptance rate expectations by 20.3%
  • Increased year-over-year gift acceptance by 36.3%
A smattering of hank you notes gifters have received after sending a gift through Zest. They all express joy and delight with the gift they received.

Personalized gift messages, memorable unwrapping, and truly considerate gift choices saw increased engagement — and joy — during this week dedicated to celebrating nurses. Beyond the sheer thrill and enjoyment, this campaign was just as easy for leaders to set up as it was for gifters to redeem.  

Martha Krueger, founder of Giften Market, said, “This was our biggest project yet by volume and truly only took a few minutes to spin up the custom storefront and upload the recipient list.”

The Slickest Way to Show Employees Genuine Appreciation and Care

Whether you’re leading a 10-person startup or in charge of gifting for a 10,000-person enterprise, gifting is one simple gesture that, when done well, can lead to happier employees, healthier cultures, and long-term retention. Making a habit of showing care and appreciation all year long continuously strengthens bonds, builds relationships, and shows respect for one another. 

With the right gifting tools on your side, tasks like sourcing, personalizing, sending, and tracking gifts no longer create a gifting bottleneck (and you’ll never have to feel terrified of gifting again).

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Liz Lorge
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