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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Employee Merchandise

Employee merchandise refers to products or items that are made available to employees by their employer, often as a form of recognition, appreciation, or branding. These items may include company-branded apparel, accessories, promotional items, or other merchandise that employees can use or wear. Employee merchandise programs aim to foster a sense of belonging, pride, and loyalty among employees while promoting the employer's brand.

What is employee merchandise?

Branded items or company-specific products provided to employees, serving as both promotional material and employee perks.

Listen, recognize, award, and retain your employees with our Employee engagement software  

What types of merchandise are commonly offered to employees?

The types of merchandise offered to employees vary widely depending on the company's budget, culture, and target audience. Some common examples include:

  • Clothing: T-shirts, hoodies, jackets, hats, polos, etc., often branded with the company logo and colors.
  • Drinkware: Mugs, tumblers, water bottles, etc., often with personalized names or designs.
  • Bags: Backpacks, totes, gym bags, etc., promoting the brand and offering practical utility.
  • Stationery: Pens, notebooks, planners, sticky notes, etc., featuring the company logo and reinforcing brand awareness.
  • Tech accessories: Phone chargers, power banks, headphones, etc., showcasing the company's brand and providing useful tools.
  • Food and beverages: Coffee, tea, snacks, water, etc., offering a tangible perk and promoting company culture.
  • Miscellaneous: Stress balls, keychains, umbrellas, phone cases, etc., adding variety and catering to diverse preferences.

How are employees provided with the merchandise?

There are several ways companies can distribute employee merchandise:

  • Welcome packages: New employees receive a curated box of swag as part of their onboarding experience.
  • Company events: Swag is used as giveaways or rewards at company outings, team events, and appreciation programs.
  • Company stores: Companies can set up online or physical stores where employees can purchase merchandise at discounted prices.
  • Internal contests and promotions: Swag is offered as prizes to motivate participation and engagement.
  • Holiday gifts: Seasonal merchandise can be given as festive gestures of appreciation.
  • Direct distribution: Companies can distribute merchandise directly to employees at their desks or during meetings.

How does employee merchandise benefit both the employees and the employer?

Employee merchandise offers various benefits for both parties:

1. For employees

  • Increased engagement and morale: Receiving free or discounted merchandise can make employees feel valued and appreciated, leading to increased satisfaction and motivation.
  • Enhanced brand awareness: Wearing or using company-branded merchandise promotes the company's logo and message, both inside and outside the workplace.
  • Improved team spirit and culture: Shared experiences and pride associated with company swag fosters a sense of belonging and community.
  • Practical benefits: Usable items like bags, drinkware, or tech accessories offer everyday utility and convenience.

2. For employers

  • Attract and retain top talent: High-quality swag can make the company stand out as a desirable employer, attracting and retaining skilled individuals.
  • Strengthen brand identity: Consistent branding across merchandise promotes brand recognition and reinforces the company's image.
  • Boost marketing efforts: Merchandise acts as a walking advertisement, reaching a wider audience and promoting brand awareness.
  • Improve employee communication and engagement: The distribution of merchandise can be used as a platform to communicate company news, values, or promotional campaigns.

Are employees required to pay for the merchandise?

Employee merchandise can be provided either free of cost to employees or at a subsidized price. The company typically covers the cost for essential items like branded clothing and logo-emblazoned accessories. However, for more personalized or optional items, employees might contribute a portion of the cost through payroll deductions or online store purchases.

Are there any tax implications associated with employee merchandise?

The tax implications of employee merchandise depend on the value of the items, the frequency of distribution, and the specific tax regulations in the jurisdiction.

  • De minimis fringe benefits: Items considered de minimis, meaning small and infrequent, are generally exempt from taxation for employees.
  • Gifts exceeding de minimis value: Items exceeding the de minimis limit may be considered taxable income for employees and subject to income tax.
  • Employers' deductions: Companies may be able to deduct the cost of employee merchandise as a business expense, but this depends on the specific circumstances and tax regulations.

It's crucial for companies to consult with a tax advisor to ensure compliance with all applicable tax laws and regulations regarding employee merchandise.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

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