What’s with tech firms luring talent with luxury gifts?

Organisations should look for more sustainable ways to attract and retain talent

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Imagine receiving super bikes, cool gadgets and luxury vacations on joining an organisation. A dream come true? Well, for new joinees at BharatPe, it really was. The fintech company actually offered its new joinees these lucrative incentives recently.

As part of its endeavour to triple the strength of its tech team, BharatPe offered a ‘bike package’ — which includes top end motorcycles, such as BMW G310R, Jawa Parek, KTM Duke 390, KTM RC 390 and Royal Enfield Himalayan—and a ‘gadget package’— which includes Apple iPad Pro (with Pencil), Bose Headphone, Harman Kardon Speaker, Samsung Galaxy Watch, WFH desk and chair and Firefox Typhoon 27.5 D bicycle—at the time of joining!

“However, such strategies should not be implemented on the basis of knee-jerk reactions. One needs to operate on a certain philosophy”

Dwarakanath P, HR Leader & non-executive member, GSK

HCL is also planning to make a similar offer to its best talent. Its top performers may be rewarded with a Mercedes-Benz car. The Indian multinational information technology services and consulting company implemented a similar incentive in 2013, where it awarded 50 Mercedes-Benz cars to its top performers.

This isn’t the first time that companies have resorted to such measures to attract or retain top talent.

Short-term strategy

According to Dwarkanath P, director, human resources, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, the joining bonus definitely attracts the best talent. However, such attraction is temporary, and since the bonus is a one-off deal, employees may venture out after a short period to a company which offers a more lucrative deal. Hence, the approach isn’t sustainable.

“If one is able to sustain it, then one can go for it. However, such strategies should not be implemented on the basis of knee-jerk reactions. One needs to operate on a certain philosophy. Thought needs to be given to whether the strategy will be able to actually attract, develop, sustain and grow talent for at least the medium term. Of course, fulfilling demand is the need of the hour, but it has to be done judiciously, in a more planned and sustained way,” advises Dwarakanath.

“While offering such attractions, one runs the risk of drawing people who’ll join just for the money, and may not necessarily be an adequate fit, culturally”

Amit Sharma, CHRO, Volvo Group India

He further adds that smaller companies are more likely to adopt such policies than their bigger counterparts, because they need to stand out to the top talent. The bigger companies already have a name and brand value, which most of the time is sufficient to lure professionals. During a crunch-like situation, when demand is higher than the supply, professionals do have the upper hand after all.

“At the time of hiring, one only gets to interact with a prospective employee for half an hour or an hour. This time is hardly enough to judge them on their skills, and hence, incentives at joining make less sense”

Ravi Mishra, Sr. VP-HR, advanced materials business, Adity Birla Chemicals

Supply vs demand

Amit Sharma, CHRO, Volvo Group India, says that companies implement such policies only when there is a short supply and high demand. As professionals realise that the demand for their skills is high in the field, they will start skilling themselves in the same.

Hence, a balance will gradually be achieved. Further, he believes that such policies are short-sighted and are only implemented by the company to ensure talent flow at a time of scarcity. “It’s a short-term gain, which has long-term consequences. One hires people on the basis of their technical skills’ compatibility and on their culture fit. While offering such attractions, one runs the risk of drawing people who’ll join just for the money, and may not necessarily be an adequate fit, culturally. It will not be long before they get frustrated or even be asked to move out. One should be attracting talent on the basis of the work culture and the alignment of the organisation’s purposes with the candidate’s own sense of professional purpose,” he says.

Desperate measures

“Such offers are not unheard of. Sometimes, because of the need of the organisation at a critical juncture, we’ve had to lure talent from the market or even headhunt from competition directly. To be able to do that, one obviously needs to offer something different from what the person is making,” says Debjani Roy, CHRO, Mind Your Fleet (Kromozones Software). She reveals that whenever critical employees are hired amidst a talent crunch, such devices are resorted to.

Amidst extraordinary circumstances and challenges, such as the pandemic, Debjani Roy feels companies could use their funding for the benefit of their existing employees. This will enhance their reputation and the employee benefits will be an additional consideration for their critical employees at the time of joining. As a result, there will be a drastic improvement in their chances of increasing their attrition rate as well, she says.

“Sometimes, because of the need of the organisation we’ve had to lure talent from the market. For that, one obviously needs to offer something different from what the person is making”

Debjani Roy, CHRO, Mind Your Fleet

Risky prospect

Ravi Mishra, Sr. VP-HR, advanced materials business, Adity Birla Chemicals, highlights that offering incentives at the time of joining is less sustainable. “At the time of hiring, one only gets to interact with a prospective employee for half an hour or so. This time is hardly enough to judge them on their skills, and hence, incentives at joining make less sense. It’s risky at the joining stage and is more like playing the lottery.” He suggests incentivising on the basis of performance, which will not only improve the company’s attrition rate but also serve as a more stable way to ensure optimum output.

“Once people are in the system and are delivering, then it is only fair for an organisation to compensate them on the basis of their performance. We all need to reward our good performers. Linking incentives to performance is a better and more sustainable way forward,” Amit Sharma added.

2 COMMENTS

  1. All the HR honchos seem to ‘moderate’ the need of using luxury gifts for attracting top talent, why the hesitancy……when there is a supply crunch of desired talent, price is rightfully high and therefore luxury gifts are good bait. Most organisations live from sale to sale, project to project.So, if employee get his bouquet and brickbats in the same frequency,,,why the anxiety?
    It is because the HR philosophy always wants to have a ‘one up’ on the employee at all times. If the employee attempts/leaves the organisation on a high note of success i.e. after taking his pound of flesh, the organisation is a perceived loser which they do not want to be and scout for the next opportunity to even it out.
    there are only countable organisations in this country with a systemic process to build employee relationship…where words such as empathy,support,trust,loyalty etc. evoke meaning in real terms while the macro majority employer-employee bonds are purely transactional.

  2. This tactic of rewarding a new joinee has a certain value albeit limited. We need to understand it is contextual. When there is a business critical demand to bring in a few specialists in a new tech area, the prospective candidates are fewer and it could make a good sense to welcome the selected ones with a special bouquet. This is to ensure that the candidate is able to see a special value attached to him by the company. He is being told we value him and welcome him. Care should be taken to see that this tactic is not employed indiscriminately across the organization, as it can even misfire in making an existing specialist in the same team feel less special. The way we communicate about the joining bonus in whatever form, is key to both the prospective joinee and as well to the existing team. Additionally, this should not be overdone – the ‘gift’ should be not too flashy and expensive than what it would require to get the selected candidate in.

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