India has the highest employee turnover rate globally. According to Preparing to Take Off a study by the Hay Group, the reason cited was that employees are not satisfied with their compensation packages. Retaining talent has become a mandate and companies have started offering perks apart from the real cost to the company (CTC), the salary, taxes, benefits, and so forth, to encourage and retain employees. Employers are going the extra mile to make employees feel good about working for the company. They are thinking outside the box to motivate top performers and giving attractive perks to retain talent.
The aim of perks is to boost employee morale in order to maintain a long and healthy employee-employer relationship, a win-win situation for both. The big splash of company perks came last year when diamond company Hari Krishna Exports Private, Ltd. showed its appreciation to 1,268 employees by awarding them cars, houses and jewelry totaling more than ₹ 500 million ($8.2 million U.S.) for meeting target goals. Four-hundred-ninety-one employees received cars, 2,017 received houses/flats and another 570 received expensive jewelry.
While few companies can be so lavish toward their employees, more are viewing employees as their most valuable asset and are offering perks. Below are some of the usual — and not so usual — perks hard-working IT professionals can expect:
Bonuses and awards
Cash bonuses for achieving goals is a fairly common occurrence for IT firms. Bangalore-based Mphasis is a generous employer awarding top employees with cash bonuses for work well-done and for referring potential hires. They further sweeten the pot during referral drives by awarding electronics including iPhones, smartphones, tablets, tech health gadgets, and so forth.
Hard-working IT pros need to keep their energy levels up and many firms are helping out. More companies are offering some combination of free food to their employees. Offerings range from simple snacks all the way up to three square meals a day. The cost savings by eating discount or free meals at work can be substantial over a year — especially for freshers who need to save their money.
Besides the ubiquitous refrigerator and microwave, it’s now quite common for a company to have an onsite kitchen stocked with coffee, fresh fruit and other healthy snacks. Companies are coming to recognize the impact of food on employees and taking steps to ensure that they offer nutritious, healthy and tasty options — though it is still quite acceptable to offer treats for those moments when you absolutely must have a handful of Cadbury Gems.
Health and fitness
If you don’t have your health, then you have nothing. And to ensure that you do have your health, many IT firms offer a variety of health packages. Some offer free medical insurance to employees and their immediate family members with limits — data protection company Dhruva Pune offers medical insurance of up to five lakhs and provides accidental insurance equal to five times an employee’s CTC. Others, like Mphasis share part of the costs of the medical insurance premium for employees and their families, including parents and in-laws. In the unfortunate event of something terrible happening, Intel Technology offers free life insurance to each of their 2,640 employees.
It’s also becoming increasingly common for firms to have tie-ups with gyms that give special discounts to employees. As India is the yoga capital of the world, many Indian IT companies have onsite yoga studios for employees to relax and meditate. Some even have gyms and swimming pools on the premises. American Express Bank looks out for their employees’ work and personal life balance by offering an impressive employee assistance program that addresses personal and emotional health and general well-being issues.
Some firms, with the help of big hospitals, have established clinics on the premises for easy access to basic medical care. Employees are able to see a doctor without the difficulty of setting an appointment. In addition to basic care, most clinics are equipped to provide emergency treatments, and if required, ready ambulance transfer to the main hospital.
Overwhelmed with mundane personal tasks? Fear not, some companies have established concierge services for their employees. Concierges are available by phone, e-mail, text, and in some instances actually on company premises. Too busy to do your laundry at home? Just hand it to the concierge desk for cleaning by an external vendor. Need to get a package across town quickly? Don’t call a courier service yourself, simply hand your package to the concierge desk, which has couriers on speed-dial. No need to make your own travel arrangements either — travel ticket booking assistance is also provided by concierge desks.
Welfare options for parents
As more women enter the IT field smart companies are looking to their needs. Apart from maternity leave, which has been in effect since 1961, more companies are offering work-from-home options with flexible hours. Telecommuting is easy with email and the internet. Multinational firms like Google, IBM and Cisco offer flexible options to meet their employee’s needs. This flexibility allows women with children to maintain their place in the corporate world while staying involved with their small children. Of course this option depends on the employee and their managers. You can save some money, however, as well as significant amounts of time, by walking into another room at home rather than traveling back and forth to work.
Day care for small children is also more common in India. IT services and infrastructure services provider Zensar Pune is a model company for offering day care facilities. Parents can be assured that their children are well-cared for by trained daycare professionals and visit them on breaks and during lunch.
Sabbaticals for men and women are also becoming popular whereby employees can take time off from work without resigning their positions. Employees can schedule time off for six months to a year to spend time with family, travel or participate in other professional endeavors.
Some IT companies offer quarterly funds to employee teams. The amount of funds is based on the number of team members, and can be used for team engagement activities. Employee teams can plan some games, adventure activities, off site outings, movies, lunches or dinners. The purpose is to have fun and enjoy time together away from work. Doing so helps build positive team interaction and a healthy team work environment. Often times activities are wrapped around celebrations of festivals, special achievements, and cultural and sports activities.
Some companies give employee discounts on electronics purchases of their own brands. Employees can purchase the product and claim discounts by producing bills. Just last year, as an employee of Mphasis, an HP company, I received a 12 percent discount on an HP tablet. Other companies offer low-interest loans for electronics or car purchases.
Because a comfortable work environment can really add to an employee’s productivity, companies are investing increasing amounts on innovative infrastructures to create employee-friendly work spaces. They want to help employees enjoy being at work, and feel proud to be a part of the company.
Along these lines, some companies are creating space for employees to play and let off steam during the day. Everybody loves playing games, and it is refreshing. It’s increasingly common to see pool tables, table tennis, chess, and carom boards in cafeteria or break areas. Google is a great example of creating a laid back environment with whimsical office spaces.
Accenture Pune, really gets into helping their employees feel at ease. They play music at the start of the day and encourage employees to “get up and dance.” Mphasis plays radio music every Friday and offers quizzes about content whereby employees can win prizes.
Education and certifications
IT firms understand the value of an educated and trained cadre of employees. Thus, one of the most important benefits regularly offered is financial aid for related education and technical certification programs. Most IT firms offer sabbatical leave in order for employees to complete their education and even provide financial help for tuition and associated education expenses. If an employee wants to earn an IT certification they can receive a partial or complete reimbursement of all fees based upon successful completion.
Whatever the IT specialty you select, you can expect to see some, if not most, of these perks in addition to a solid salary and great opportunities for advancement. What is the best work perk you’ve seen or heard of? Let us know.