Office gymnasiums, holiday conferences and Diwali gifts are kind of out of fashion. In the serious business of keeping employees happy – and retain them in a competitive talent market – family links, cultural events and hobbies are providing that extra edge to companies that just want to do it.
A team of about 15-20 engineers in the Research & Development team of leading car maker Maruti Suzuki organises an annual family day in which relatives of employees get to sing and dance in a competition.
“We work on tight deadlines and long hours, and even the families have to compromise and so whenever we find time, we organise activities where even the families can find comfort,” said I.V. Rao, Managing Executive Officer, R&D at Maruti.
The team recently staged a play on the theme of communalism and has plans to perform a Japanese play later this year for the Japanese employees of the company.
Internet giant Google gives employees time off from work to pursue some personal passion. Tamil channel Vijay TV has an Antakshari-like song competition for teams from leading companies like Cognizant and Polaris.
“Facilities like a gym are more individual-centric and might not appeal (to everyone) whereas sociocultural activities facilitate a fun and casual atmosphere where employees could just let their hair down,” said Surabhi Mathur, General Manager, Permanent Staffing, TeamLease.
Companies in IT and IT-enabled services sector are among those promoting such activities because their work hours are irregular, stress levels high – and need to retain talented workers very strong.
Other demanding sectors like banking and financial service companies are catching up, says Mathur. HDFC bank had last year organised an event on women’s day where women employees could put up handicraft stalls.
Bangalore-based Infinite Computer Solutions organises monthly get-together parties for its 1,200 employees across the country. The company’s employee club called iVerve organises an annual get-together. “These socio-cultural events help build a sense of camaraderie amongst our people and they get to know each other better, Rajan NV, Senior Vice President, HR, Infinite Computer Solutions told Hindustan Times.
HCL Infosystems organises “engagement programmes” for employees around themes. “We follow the cultural calendar and create a profile of the festival and send it out to our offices,” Vivek Punekar, Executive Vice President, HR, HCL Infosystems.
HCL also offers guitar and salsa classes for employees.