From Flipkart or Snapdeal vouchers to a chance to see the Cricket World Cup in Australia, companies are pulling out all stops to reward their employees this year. With many millennials in the workforce, technology is a big hit with top performers and so are exotic vacations. In 2009, the Religare Group had given close to 30 luxury cars including BMW and Mercedes Benz, to some of its top managers. Such novel perks, a common practice before the 2008 slowdown, seem to be making a comeback. Last Diwali, a Surat-based diamond firm Hari Krishna Exports has given Rs 4 lakh each to 1,268 employees, including cleaning staff, to buy cars, flats and jewellery. This novel reward, which is apart from the annual Diwali bonus, would cost the company Rs 50 crore. While most companies don’t dole out to such an extent, they have found innovative ways to reward their employees. We feature a few of them.
Infosys: A major number of Infosys employees were in for a pleasant surprise in the holiday season. About 3,000 employees received iPhone6 handsets with a gift-themed letter signed by top boss Vishal Sikka. Labelled “Holiday Bonus”, the iPhones were a token of appreciation for the top performers. Rewarding employees with iPhones was the latest in a series of moves by Sikka to win over employees. In January 2015, Infosys announced 100 per cent variable bonus payout for employees for the December quarter. He relaxed the dress code for town halls, allowed internet access to employees across all levels, simplified internal processes and increased budgets for team awards. The company had been facing record attrition the last year and it had crossed 20 per cent in the July-September period. It is training more employees in areas like design thinking and artificial intelligence. The company has also partnered with Stanford Global School of Business for an executive education programme, where 200 executives have attended. In 2013, Infosys had rewarded star performers with a surprise bonus. In 2010, the company in an effort to mark 30th year of operations, each of the 113,000 employees will get five free shares plus an additional share for each year they have put in with the company. In 2006, when the company turned 25, it gave a pioneering stock option plan that was later discontinued and a Rs 126-crore special bonus to its 58,000 employees.
HCL Tech: HCL had a Christmas surprise in store for its employees. About 130 employees were given the option of either taking a Mercedes home or their family and friends for an all-paid family vacation, either in India or abroad. The top performers are invited to be part of the HCL CEO Club. The HCL CEO Club Programme recognizes high performers who impact business strategy. In February 2014, HCL launched its first-ever global Twitter recruitment campaign #COOLESTINTERVIEWEVER offering the wining candidate a $75,000 prize and the opportunity to work on a year-long strategic project with the company’s top management team.
Cognizant: In December 2014, Cognizant granted restricted stock units (RSUs) to five executive vice-presidents (EVPs) and other associates promoted to the EVP level. Two EVPs were granted 4,000 RSUs (valued at over Rs 2 crore) on December 3 under the Cognizant Technology Solutions 2009 Incentive Compensation Plan. In March 2014, the company handed out a bonus payout of more than 200 per cent to its top performers for 2013. Earlier, they had tied up with Staples for an employee gifting program. In 2006, they had launched a program called Wah! Cognizant, where the company gave instant rewards to its employees, who contributed to the company beyond the call of duty or for any exceptional performance. Designed along the lines of a frequent flyer program, employees earn reward points that can be accumulated and claimed against Cognizant merchandise ranging from denim shirts to signature coffee mugs, watches to jackets, or even a DVD player.
Apple: In 2012, Apple launched an initiative called Blue Sky that allows a small group of staffers to spend a few weeks on a pet engineering product. For employees of Apple, this was a path-breaking initiative for a company that has long ignored treading the same path as other Silicon Valley companies in offering perks. Soon, the company also announced that its employees would be eligible for a $500 discount on the purchase of a new Mac and a $250 discount on a new iPad. However, they can take advantage of the discounts only once in three years and must have been with the company for at least 90 days. In 2014, Apple along with Facebook offered to freeze eggs for female employees in order to attract more women to their companies.
If you come across others, do send in your recommendations to me.