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Holiday tech gifts for the IT pro: A guide to the gadgets your IT staff really want

November 25, 2014
By Lisa Dare

So you’re worried about keeping your best IT staff happy. Bad news: You probably should be. Most IT workers—even those not actively looking for work—report they would consider another offer. And they’re getting offers: Our recent survey found the average IT pro receives 34 job solicitations a week.

While nothing trumps a hefty bonus this holiday season, one of these thoughtful, fun tech gifts will fill your best workers with holiday cheer—and goodwill to you.

But choosing a gift for the IT pro who already has the latest gadget won’t be easy. We’re here to help. We asked IT workers what tech gifts they covet and got an enthusiastic outpouring of responses. So forget the pens, fruit baskets and company logoed gear, and keep your favorite tech geeks happy with the goodies they really want.

Most wanted gift

IT workers’ tech wishes varied wildly, but the consensus came down to this: They’d really, really like an ultra-portable computer. The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is widely respected in the IT community, and proved the computer of choice in our polls.

With an entry-level price topping $800, the Surface doesn't come cheap. If you’re constrained to a more modest budget, the iPad Air proved a surprisingly popular choice for half the money. Worried your IT staff may already have an iPad? No worries: It also makes a great regifting item.

Most likely to make the fitness gurus happy

Many fitness enthusiasts mentioned the vivofit, Fitbit or other wearables that track data like physical activity, calories burned and sleep. Bonus: Wearable gifts will make whoever runs your employee wellness program smile, as these devices can enable office fitness challenges.

Most likely to make the couch potatoes happy

The $40 Roku and higher-end Apple TV were popular choices.

Coolest technologies

Your creative types will love the Moleskine Smart Notebook, which turns paper drawings into manipulatable computer vectors using a companion app by Adobe. And at less than $33 for the notebook and app, your budget will love it, too.

Have some real budget to spend on keeping your IT staff happy? For a mere $800, your IT workers can be the first on their block to own a 3D printer. Trust me, they want this gift.

Craveable photography gear

One thing many IT professionals have in common is a deep interest in photography. While you may not want to spring for a $3,500 DSLR camera—which they may already own—you can expand anyone’s collection with a terrific tripod.

Budget-busting: This Manfrotto Befree compact travel carbon fiber tripod with an all-purpose ball head will be a hit with any photography buff.

Reasonable: If you have an adventurous staff, chances are they’ve coveted one of these fun puppies: the GoPro HERO. For about $130, your IT friend can throw on a waterproof video camera to capture cool adventure videos, like mountain climbing and whitewater rafting.

Cheap: It’s pretty unlikely your photo enthusiast owns this, and pretty likely they’ll find it cool: Joby Flexible Tripod and ball head. Just look at the picture to see how cool and different this tripod is.

Gifts for gamers

Know your staff who live to play video games? Lootcrate delivers a box of fun toys sure to please your gamers, from clever characters to Titanfall t-shirts. You just have to look at past crates to see for yourself. One gaming fiend declared herself “obsessed with it.”

Not technically technology …

For the IT pro who already has every tech toy, you may want to go another route. One IT worker suggested a few days of extra vacation and a gift certificate to a nearby resort would really make his year. Another cheekily suggested gifting an email out-of-office assistant message for a week.

High-end computer accessories

These days, mechanical keyboards and fancy monitors are in high demand by IT workers. Check out our recent post on blinging up your IT workspace for recommendations.

Quirkiest answers

Some of our favorite answers included:

For some advice on how to keep your IT staff happy—and productive—read our top advice:

3 smart ways to keep top IT talent from leaving

Want to pay your IT staff less? Stop wasting their time.

Lisa Dare is a marketing writer for TEKsystems who enjoys learning about IT from some of the smartest folks in tech. She frequently blogs about IT career advice and the lighter side of tech, and on her off days loves to kayak and play with her toddler son.

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