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Home > Business > Special

Private companies raining perks

Aabhas Sharma | August 05, 2006

Increasingly, companies are offering unusual allowances to employees.

Ayan Banerjee's company dangles an additional birthday allowance in front of him each August. As sales manager in a leading financial services company, Banerjee is just one of the employees who 'freak out' on his birthday every year at his company's expense.

He's not alone, especially as an increasing number of companies seduce employees by offering generous, unique and of course, tempting perks and allowances.

In Air Deccan's office in Bangalore employees clutch 'special birthday coupon' while also enjoying quick champagne parties organised by the company. "Air Deccan's employees," confirms Ujjal Gangopadhyay, who holds the curiously titled post of chief people enhancer, "are given special perks on birthdays and anniversaries. We book limousines and hand out coupons for dinner in the best restaurants."

He remembers an FMCG organisation where a birthday dinner was organised for an employee's spouse. "A letter was sent well in advance inviting her to a restaurant with a bouquet and a well-decorated cab. It was a small gesture but it mattered to the employee."

Some companies like Vertex even offer employees a slice of the big boss's extravagant lifestyle by driving them around in a chauffeur driven Mercedes that takes them to the best restaurant in town for a treat and then drives them back home.

If that seems way out of reach, then companies like NIIT offer 'dating allowances' for younger employees waiting to treat someone to coffee. Companies like HP offer Sodexho food vouchers that can be used at several outlets, including McDonalds and Pizza Hut.

Dating allowances, limousine drives, company-sponsored trips to Australia, Paris, Europe, champagne parties to wish employees on birthdays and wedding anniversaries besides candle-light dinners organised by companies in restaurants.

Thanks to some of these unique perks and allowances, employees at companies are working hard and partying harder. At Elite Modelling Agency, for instance, some employees are reimbursed every time they decide to hit a club or a disco. "It's part of our profession and most of the people who we need to interact with hang out in discos and clubs," says a spokesperson.

Obviously, companies are in no mood to be ditched by their employees and in some cases set up employees' homes and offer allowances worth Rs 10,000 and more at marriages.

In fact, some insurance companies in India gift their more promising agents electronic items like refrigerators or flat screen television sets, and holiday trips every time they achieve their sales targets.

Speaking of holidays, companies will readily pack you off on a holiday to Egypt or to closer but equally exotic locales like Singapore and Phuket. As team-building exercises, it's common to take employees on biking trips or river rafting expeditions.

"An Air Deccan employee gave some valuable suggestions and we offered her a trip to Australia," says Gangopadhyay, who remembers benefitting personally from perks. "While with the Oberois, the company sent me on a two-day, three-day trip to Paris. My wife and I also went on a 12-day trip to Europe."

But it's hard to beat Infosys which, as part of its recent 25th anniversary celebrations, decided to split a whopping Rs 126 crore (Rs 1.26 billion) among 58,000-strong employees, leaving them all considerably richer.

And according to a former employee, if Infosys newly-weds both happen to work in the company, their wedding gift might even be a Maruti car.

Next time you negotiate a new job, instead of plumbing for a fat salary, you might choose to look at the incentives offered. And this, promise some, is merely the beginning. What's next? Corporate jets flying executives? Golf club memberships? Wait and watch.

With inputs from Abhilasha Ojha

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