India Inc using festive season to bond with employees

Festivals and bonhomie are synonymous. Increasingly, companies are using celebrations as another HR tool to bond better with employees as age-old practices in home and temples make inroads into offices.

If globalisation has made Christmas trees part of the corporate corridor, then the traditional display of dolls (kolu), idols and other symbols are also capturing the essence of festivities in workspaces.

Even festivals of regional importance like the nine-day Navaratra, Holi, Onam and Ganesh Chathurthi are slowly growing in stature. India Inc is finding such occasions to not merely exchange gifts, network and socialise, but see it as a people-bonding exercise. HR teams are using it as means to connect and relate with the diverse talent pool better.

Step into companies like Cognizant and Peerless in Kolkata or Blueshift and HCL Technologies in Chennai, you will find the array of dolls greeting you at the reception. Not to be left behind are companies like Vodafone and TCS. While the southern flavour of Navaratri is offered to employees through kolu and sundal, it is the dandiya and garba attire that attract them to participate.

From SMSing to exchanging pleasantries to sharing delicacies, the spirit of festivals comes alive in office portals. Though regional festivals are yet to make their mark in the global arena, corporate spends range from Rs 10 lakh onwards to celebrate Diwali overseas and the effort is to organise business promotions around a theme. “It is not wine and dine alone, but staff welfare at its best,” says an HR official of a top IT company.

“We have a ‘Celebrating India’ series, which we launched about four years ago. Under this initiative, we celebrate Pongal, Onam, Holi to Deepavali, Navaratri and Christmas,” HCL Technologies HR head of telecom vertical G Srinivasan said.

“All festive seasons, including Navaratri Kolu, are celebrated by our employees. Festive seasons provide a platform for associates to bond and celebrate togetherness,” said Cognizant HR director Sriram Rajagopal.

Says Blueshift chairman Sankaran P Raghunathan, “Festivals in India are just as vibrant as its cultural fabric. We are secular in our outlook and thought if a Christmas tree could be used to celebrate the occasion, then why not a kolu to enjoy the nine-day Navaratri. What started three years ago has become a spirit of celebration. It has also brought deep employee involvement.”

Big or small, companies are trying to engage employees in every possible manner. If the Golden week during the month of May in Japan sees eight weeks of holiday and celebration, then companies like GE in Bangalore or elsewhere are also in line with the mood. The departments in the offices remain closed during that part of the year, like in December, to coincide with the Thanksgiving and the Christmas festivities.

“In the past, if workmen in factories took pride in conducting Ayudha puja and Satyanrayana puja, today, corporates are decorating office, arranging special menus and gifting their people to celebrate it in a modern version. It is one more occasion to bond with the employee. The local HR team takes the initiative, as managing enough people to participate is a big challenge,” says Totus Consulting founder-CEO Ganesh Chella.