Expensive gifts to top talent: the good and the bad

Infosys, the major software services firm recently gifted 30,000 of its top staff with iPhone 6 to stem attrition. In October last year, Hari Krishna Exports, a diamond polishing company in Surat, Gujarat gifted 500 cars, 200 apartments and diamond jewellery all amounting to 500m rupees to its loyal and top performers. 130 employees of HCL Tech were awarded a Mercedes or an all-expenses paid trip abroad as a token of appreciation.

Rewarding the employees by compensation, benefits, recognition and appreciation is a business technique to maintain healthy relations, keeping the employees satisfied, and retaining talent in a company in the resurging competitive market. The kinds of bonus and benefits have undergone a change within the last few years from the traditional to the modern, from non-monetary to tech savvy expensive gifts.

A ‘thank you’ email, appreciating an employee in a meeting, or electing them to a wall of fame used to do the deal earlier. Such un-monetary rewards were task-specific or relied on an employee’s performance in the past few months.

However, with the evolvement of the monetary gifts, only those employees who had been in a company for many years are targeted, and their performance over a long period of time evaluated. This leads to lagging of a person’s interest in work if his past performance has not been satisfactory, and may lead to jealousy among the non-receivers of such awards. Such expensive gifts are possible to be given only to a limited number of people, in comparison to benefits like medical coverage, leave off from work, flexible leaves, training and tuition benefits, which could be enjoyed by a majority of the employees.

Despite all the debate, the chairman of Hari Krishna Exports, Savibhai Dholakia’s comments- “we created the hunger among the employees- they work better, they take home better incentives,” speaks of one good thing about the new kinds of rewards- atleast a part of the profit a company gains is spent on the people who worked hard to make that happen. Also, a long-term performance evaluation seeks out consistent performers who work above average as a habit, rather than for the sake of rewards (as is the case with monthly recognition programmes).

The companies need to make sure that they are not neglecting other workers who work equally hard, and that they are able to recognise and appreciate their efforts as well.