Tech Company Merchandise – Why Top Companies Give So Much to Employees

Tech company merchandise is more than just company t-shirts to commemorate off-site retreats and trade show giveaways to drum up new business. Branded merch is also increasingly being used by high-performing technology corporations and startups alike to attract, engage, and retain top talent.

Many of the top performing companies in the information technology sector – including several Fortune 100 companies – use free merch like logoed hoodies, hats, bags, and drinkware to motivate and reward their workforce and promote team culture. In fact, according to a UC Berkeley study, 85% of the average Bay Area tech worker’s wardrobe consists of tech company shirts, hoodies & other free apparel or swag. So much free company apparel is now given away in Silicon Valley, that between 2009 and 2015 (when the study was conducted), Bay Area clothing retailers experienced a massive drop in sales of casualwear.

While most complimentary branded merch is obtained by workers attending industry events, many tech workers also receive free tech company merchandise, apparel, and accessories from their employers.

A few ways that top technology companies use employee swag as part of their talent acquisition and retention programs follows.

Welcoming New Hires & Interns

Strong company culture and a positive reputation as a top employer both go a long way towards attracting the top 20% of candidates.

Employee swag is an ideal tool for talent recruitment and onboarding at top tech companies. Because tech talent acquisition is so competitive, helping new hires feel like part of the team from day one is important. Branded gifts can help make new interns and employees feel more engaged right away and reinforce their desire to work at your company.

Employee welcome kits featuring branded tech company merchandise like water bottles and backpacks have become a key part of the employee onboarding process at many startups and corporations. Top technology brands like Apple also give away kits of company swag during intern orientation. As a bonus, intern and employee welcome kits encourage social sharing, making them an excellent word-of-mouth recruitment tool.

Tech company merchandise - Apple Intern TikTok

Other top tech brands like Dropbox, IBM and Twitter are also known for their excellent employee onboarding gifts, which contain a selection of practical and fun items such as hoodies, tote bags, socks, stickers, nerf guns and even branded towels. New Google employees, referred to as Nooglers, are known to receive a quirky custom propeller beanie cap with “Noogler” embroidered across the front. According to ZDNet, it is a tradition for new Google employees to wear this hat during their first week of work on the Google campus.

Promoting Team Culture at Annual Company Meetings & Events

Branded team gifts help build, grow and promote team culture. This is especially important for 100% remote companies and global tech companies with locations and employees around the world.

Precisely, the global leader in the data integrity software market, needed a custom gift to send to employees attending their virtual SKO meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic. They worked with their Metron Branding account manager to curate a collection of custom gifts – including branded apparel and drinkware – for their distributed sales team.

Each employee received the same gift ahead of the virtual sales kickoff meeting, which helped boost morale while also providing a tangible reminder of Precisely’s inclusive team culture.

Celebrating Company Milestones

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many global companies needed to find creative ways to virtually celebrate company milestones.

ForgeRock, a multinational identity and access management software company, went public in September 2021. Needing an IPO gift for employees attending their virtual IPO celebration ($FORG), ForgeRock worked with Metron Branding to create a custom gift package that would surprise and reward their dedicated workforce for their incredible achievement.

ForgeRock’s custom gift box for employees included apparel, accessories, drinkware, and deal toys – all personalized, packaged and distributed to employees in nearly 50 countries just in time for their IPO announcement on September 15th.

Supporting Employees During Difficult Times & Life Transitions

Top employers across all industries understand the connection between whole body wellness and employee retention.

Mental health support has become an important part of corporate wellness programs over the past few years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many tech companies, including Pinterest and Salesforce, used employee care packages to demonstrate their concern and ongoing support for the wellbeing of their employees.

Employee care packages often include wellness-related tech company merchandise such as soothing herbal teas and customized coffee mugs or comfy leisurewear and accessories like branded robes, wearable blankets, and fuzzy socks.

Employee care packages are surging in popularity right now. And tech employers should especially take notice of this trend. Research indicates that burnout risk has been especially high for cybersecurity teams & other IT workers since the pandemic began. Skills gaps and increased workloads are two factors contributing to chronic workplace stress and exhaustion in the tech industry.

Yerbo, a mental wellbeing platform for IT professionals, surveyed more than 30,000 information technology workers in 2022. Their research indicates that 2 out of 5 IT professionals show a high risk of burnout. And 42% of programmers and other tech workers at high risk of burnout reported that they are considering leaving their company within six months.

Providing Flexible Non-Monetary Employee Incentives

When it comes to rewarding employees for achieving organizational goals, non-cash rewards are highly effective.

Branded tech company merchandise, incentive trips and gift cards are widely used by top technology brands as non-monetary incentives for employees. According to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), 50% of employees at top performing companies in the technology, finance & manufacturing/automotive industries expected to earn non-cash rewards in 2020, compared to 39% of employees at less financially successful IT firms & corporations.

The IRF 2020 Top Performer Study found that, “Perhaps the biggest differentiator between Top Performers and their Comparators is the priority placed on flexibility of tangible rewards. Top Performers were nearly twice as likely to list flexibility as their most important consideration (33%) when giving merchandise or gift cards (Comparators reported 18%). […] These data suggest that Top Performers understand that the personal relevance of the reward is more important than the perceived cash value.”

The easiest way to incorporate flexibility into your employee incentive and rewards program is to set up an employee redemption store aka online company store. With an online company store, employees can use promo codes to select gift cards as well as custom corporate apparel like tech company t-shirts and corporate fleece vests. An online company store is also an ideal, cost-effective way to let employees choose their own gifts for occasions such as holidays, birthdays, and work anniversaries.

To learn more about how an online company store can be used to increase employee and/or customer engagement:

Optimize Employee Engagement with Tech Company Merchandise

The tech industry has the highest average turnover rate out of any sector.

That means, when it comes to high-value job candidates and employees, everything your company does matters. Branded apparel and other tech company merchandise help top tech companies attract, engage, motivate, and reward VIP talent – and create a team-centric company culture. As a bonus, employee swag helps boost brand awareness in spaces and places that billboards and digital ads can’t reach.

Employees who feel recognized & engaged are more likely to remain with your organization for a long time – and provide valuable employee referrals!

To learn more about how branded swag can help your company surprise and delight your hardworking employees, contact our Customer Service team for a consultation or fill out the form below.


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