Why should companies maintain parity in employees’ Diwali gifts?

Diwali is a festival celebrated by one and all, irrespective of rank, so gifts are usually uniform and consistent. Differentiation is already there in terms of compensation, say HR leaders

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Corporate gifting in India has reached another level with organisations trying to outdo each other in choosing the most creative and useful gifts for their employees. The tradition of giving Diwali gifts has evolved over time. Depending on the size and nature of the business and the budgets in various organisations, employees may get anything from gift coupons to even expensive watches, gadgets, cars and bikes!

While organisations do try to ensure parity when giving gifts to their customers or clients, some special / important clients may be showered with more generosity compared to less important ones who may just be given a standard gift. Is this kind of differentiation seen in the gifts meant for employees too?

Well, organisations comprise different kinds of employees who can be differentiated in terms of their tenure, abilities and contribution. Some are special or extraordinary, while others may not be so. Some are very senior, experienced and tenured, the so-called solid citizens who can be relied upon for support at all times. Then there are star performers and those that can be called the pillars of the organisation.

Then why aren’t different Diwali gifts given to the employees according to their place and value in the company?

“We talk of inclusion in all aspects, and therefore, companies follow the same while gifting during festivals too”

Pallavi Poddar, senior HR leader

“Diwali is a festival celebrated across the country, by one and all, in their own ways. While rewarding employees for their good work and rolling out performance-linked bonuses and incentives is one thing, gifting employees during Diwali is altogether another. The latter is just a simple gesture and remains consistent across all levels,” shares Ramesh Shankar S, senior HR leader with HRKatha.

All HR leaders and experts share that no company differentiates when it comes to gifting employees during festivals such as Diwali. The festival is seen as a joyful event, which is supposed to be celebrated together involving everyone.

“As a firm, we are anyway maintaining a differentiation through compensation, variable pay and performance-linked rewards. Therefore, there is certainly no need to differentiate in terms of gifts during festivals,” asserts Mahipal Nair, VP & head HR, India, Japan & APAC, Trellix.

While some service-sector companies may have huge workforces in their corporate offices, other firms and conglomerates may have a significant number of employees on the shopfloor as well as the corporate offices. Do such big businesses differentiate between their blue- and white-collared employees?

“Absolutely not. No good company will ever do such a thing,” asserts Shankar who has spent a lot of time leading HR in the manufacturing sector. He observes that while the budget for gifting during Diwali may differ for the white-collared and blue-collared staff, the gifts remain consistent.

“As a firm, we are anyway maintaining a differentiation through compensation, variable pay and performance-linked rewards. Therefore, there is certainly no need to differentiate in terms of gifts during festivals”

Mahipal Nair, VP & head HR, India, Japan & APAC, Trellix

“For unionised workforce at the shopfloor, the budget for Diwali gifts is mostly decided through negotiations with the union, but for other employees, the management decides the budget,” adds Shankar.

Most companies aim to maintain consistency and uniformity across all levels of employees when it comes to gifting on Diwali so that there are no ill feelings amongst the employees.

“We talk of inclusion in all aspects, and therefore, companies follow the same while gifting during festivals too,” shares Pallavi Poddar, senior HR leader.

Poddar points out that while there is certainly no differentiation or discrimination in terms of Diwali gifts, there may be some variations when it comes to organising Diwali dinners, get-togethers or parties depending on the level and the managers.

She also adds that many MNCs have strict policies against corporate gifting, which actually restricts them from going beyond a certain limit while showing a gesture. “One certainly cannot go beyond gifting chocolates and sweets in MNCs,” she adds.

While Diwali is a festival which comes every year, there are some firms that go beyond all imagination when it comes to gifting their employees. Some firms have been known to gift gold worth lakhs of rupees to their employees. However, the financial performance of the business may not be the same every year. Should companies maintain consistency in gifting year after year?

“Diwali is a festival celebrated across the country, by one and all, in their own ways. While rewarding employees for their good work and rolling out performance-linked bonuses and incentives is one thing, gifting employees during Diwali is altogether another. The latter is just a simple gesture and remains consistent across all levels”

Ramesh Shankar S, senior HR leader

Most HR leaders feel that organisations try to maintain uniformity while allocating budgets for Diwali gifts every year. Fluctuations may happen owing to inflation rates, but there is usually no major change.

“In fact, big IT companies with a large workforce try to stick to the same budget every year,” reveals Poddar.

On special occasions, however, companies may think of doing something special. “Siemens is celebrating its 175th anniversary, and therefore, the Company planned to do something special this year,” says Shankar citing an example.

Fluctuations in the employee-welfare budget may also take place closer to the festival itself, depending on changing needs or requirements, mentions Poddar.

As a strategy, companies stay away from differentiating amongst employees when it comes to showing joyful gestures during festivals or special occasions, as discrimination of any kind may adversely affect the sentiments of employees.

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