COMPANIES should make it best practice to "thoughtfully" gift to their staff all year round and not just on obvious milestones.
So says qualified aromatherapist and "master blender" Ennia Jones, founder of Newcastle holistic wellness business Fleurette.
"Companies can invent opportunities to give that lie outside of traditional gifting seasons to help keep their organisation front of mind during these unprecedented times," Mrs Jones says.
Opportunities to gift could be "onboarding", or hiring a new employee, particularly in times when homes are now often the modern day office.
"Now that working from home is an option if people are joining a team but working remotely, it is an opportunity to give them a 'welcome to the company' gift box," she says, adding that other prompts for giving might be to welcome a new baby, celebrate an employee's wedding or send support if a staff member is ill or in difficulty.
"It is an opportunity for human connection."
Mrs Jones says businesses who gift build not only staff loyalty but also their own brand.
And while many companies are stuck in the traditional gifts of wine and chocolates, Mrs Jones believes there is a growing understanding that wellness should be incorporated into gifting.
"Insomnia, alcohol abuse and loneliness are on the rise as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and if you gift can help address one of these issues it will be welcomed, useful and remembered," she said.
"Consider incorporating wellness products such as herbal teas, diffusers, room mists, healthy snacks, nutrition guides, exercise plans and workplace ergonomic tips."
Born in Britain and raised in Zimbabwe, Mrs Jones' interest in aromatherapy was inspired in childhood by her great aunt Tete Odette.
"She was well known as a an organic herbalist and if I was sick, mum would take me to see her before we'd go to seek western medicine - there was always that element of 'nature has all the answers'," she says.
A resident of Newcastle for two decades, she founded Fleurette in 2010 as her passion project and has slowly grown its offering.
"I love what i do, I love mixing oils, reading about oils and discovering new ones," she says.
She has branched out into corporate gifts because she believes companies can do more to promote health and wellness for its staff.
"A lot of companies still do lollies and alcohol and cheese platters and it's all quite generic. I saw a space - particularly after 2020 and its the toll on mental health - for more conscious and thoughtful corporate gifting and encouraging people to take time out," she said.
"When an employee shows up at work you don't know what their home situation is like or what family, financial or relationship pressures they are under.
"Giving them something that is not alcohol, or full of sugar, that they can use to soak in the bath or make micro changes to more self-care and self-awareness as to how they are feeling, is welcome.
"If you can get them more relaxed and they know their employer is on their side you get a more productive employee. It's always nice to see the human side of the business you work for and an engaged employee is a productive one which at the end of the day affects the company's bottom line."
With more than half of diseases caused by lifestyle choices, Mrs Jones says people are more stressed and need to be encouraged to "make time to be quiet, sit down and become more self-aware."
She makes her products in her own home and says the process of making aromatherapy blends is not as simple as it may appear.
"If I have a new oil and it's been in the industry less than three years, I will buy it and use the oil for six months before I think of blending it. With blending, sometimes it comes to me quickly and happens in half an hour, with others it can take me weeks and months."
Mrs Jones has made 12 different aromatherapeutic blends and personally knows the signs of when to dip into self-care.
"If I am being snappy I know something is out of order, I will go and exercise and have a long bath. Or if I know I will have trouble sleeping I will stretch before bed, sprinkle lavender on my pillow and sheets," she says.
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