The shift to work-from-home amid the Covid-19 outbreak has changed the type of gifts companies are handing out this Diwali. The emphasis is on personalised products, in a stark shift from the typical sweets and dry fruits that are handed out every year.
The gifts includes products needed to effectively work from home, including web cameras and headphones, as also wellness and health-related products, since employees are mostly at home.
At edtech firm upGrad, there are no gifts for employees. Instead, personalised gift boxes are being given for parents, spouses and children of employees. Mayank Kumar, Co-founder & MD, upGrad, said that depending on whether the gifts are for spouses, parents or kids, the company has started sending fitness trackers, Carvaan audio players, and superhero t-shirts along with chocolates and personalised notes detailing the employee’s contribution and milestones during the year.
But, the Covid-causing coronavirus and its impact on companies due to the lockdown has led to a muted Diwali in terms of employee gifting.
Human resources officials told Moneycontrol that there is a close to 50 percent drop overall in spending on Diwali gifting. Within companies that are offering gifts, the focus is on personalisation.
The idea is to offer products that will be useful during the work-from-home phase. At kitchen appliances brand Wonderchef, employees are being offered non-stick cookware and hot-and-cold flasks. This is at a time when cooking at home has become a regular affair.
“Being a kitchenware and home appliances brand, there is nothing better to gift than our own premium products. They help our employees to cook healthy,” said Wonderchef MD Ravi Saxena.
At boutique law firm Burgeon Law, employees have been gifted a fitness pack of yoga mats, water bottle and a herbal pouch for pain relief.
Roma Priya, Founder, Burgeon Law, said that as the firm plans to continue working from home till January 2021, the idea is to help employees stay motivated and healthy.
“We do not want to miss out on the team bonding part and have planned to host a puja followed by a dress-up party for Diwali at our office. Team members from across India will be joining virtually. This will be followed by a virtual team lunch, tambola and teen patti over Zoom,” she added.
This year, the challenge for corporates has been to get all the employee addresses to ensure that the gifts reach on time. This includes even staff who may have gone back to their home towns.
Vikas Bansal, Chief Human Resource Officer, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance, said that this year’s Diwali is an excuse for celebration and finding a semblance of normalcy in an otherwise disrupted life.
“For the traditional gifting practice, we have opted for need and relevance over leisure. We have offered a self-serve digital distribution mechanism for our employees — they can choose the gift they want from a range of items that include oximeters, headphones, backpacks and much more. We rolled it out much before Diwali, so that everyone receives their gift of choice well in time,” he added.
Delhi-based Shanti Nagarajan, who advises companies on employee engagement, said that due to the rise in stress levels there is a thrust on offering online therapy sessions free for staff this year.
“A typical therapy session would cost Rs 800-1,000. Companies are offering one to two sessions free of cost to their staff by partnering with professionals. This is very relevant during the WFH era,” she added.
The e-voucher option
While reports said that companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsico are going the digital way to help employees get Diwali gifts sitting at home, this may not be common to all companies.
Aditya Narayan Mishra, CEO, CIEL HR Services, said that spending by companies, on an average, is muted. “We know of companies that have cut these spends by almost 50 percent. This year there is a logistical challenge because gifts have to be couriered. Employee addresses may not be up to date. How many companies can afford this additional spend,” he added.
Mishra also explained that while very large companies may opt for digital vouchers and gift cards of e-commerce sites, the idea around Diwali gifting is to receive something physical.
“It may be a tiny gift like a dry-fruit box. Diwali is all about a physical gift being handed over. The majority of firms don’t prefer e-gifts,” he added.