Travel Rewards: Certificates are passe: Companies are designing rewards to be relevant and comprehensive |

A growing number of employers in India are choosing to reward workers with travel, meal and ecommerce vouchers, moving away from the traditional model of giving silver coins, certificates and plaques, as they step up efforts to make employees feel more appreciated.

Top executives at Titan, Tech Mahindra, RPG Group, AB InBev, Accentiv, upGrad, Being Human Clothing, Runaya Group (sister company of Vedanta) and Tata Projects said spot recognition and wellness and experience-based offerings are some of the other measures their companies have included as part of their staff retention strategy.

Experts at global professional services firm Aon India and insurance broking and HR consulting firm Willis Towers Watson confirmed that companies across sectors are getting more innovative with their rewards and recognition (R&R) programmes in 2023.

“The rewards are now designed to be relevant and comprehensive. They can be encashed for experiences and gift vouchers,” said Rohit Anand, chief financial officer at Tech Mahindra.

According to Anand, Tech Mahindra associates can now also gift a leave to colleagues or donate reward points to social causes through the ‘Individual Social Responsibility’ programmes.

At Tata Projects, the focus on R&R for 2023 will increase substantially, said Ganesh Chandan, its chief human resource officer. “The implementation of R&R is changing. Earlier we would give a silver coin or a plaque or certificate, but today we have tied up with Amazon. We have tied up with MakeMyTrip,” said Chandan. “We give vouchers for e-commerce, dine-out, etc., as we realise employees want flexibility.” Starting this year, AB InBev is introducing a digital R&R platform, its people director-India & South East Asia, Tanvi Rohatgi said.

According to Rajul Mathur, consulting leader, work and rewards India, WTW, rewards and recognition in 2023 will include more skill-based pay, niche skill bonus, and one-time specific bonus payouts to counter talent attraction/retention issues. Roopank Chaudhary, partner at Aon India, said that with fears of a slowdown, rewards experts cannot win the war for talent on cash alone.

Reward professionals will have to work on the intangibles, said experts. “These include providing a rich employee value proposition, long-term career growth through better quality of work, frequent role rotations and succession planning for business-critical roles,” said Chaudhary.

Companies are moving away from purchasing only online or only in physical stores to looking for products in their own city or the channel that is most convenient to them, said Mayank Chawla, chief operating officer at Accentiv India, a loyalty programme solutions provider.

Physical merchandise at Accentiv today accounts for less than 10% of overall redemptions. “This is a change that has taken place over the last few years, while penetration of digital rewards has grown by more than 80% over the same time period,” said Chawla.

Tata group company Titan is making efforts to base all rewards and recognitions on performance and make them more celebratory, said Swadesh Kumar Behera, its chief people officer. Titan is also leveraging the digital channels for optimal coverage. Like others, in 2023 Titan Company will further customise its rewards and recognition offerings and also make them more instant.

Mayank Kumar, cofounder of ed-tech unicorn upGrad, said the company offers experience-based rewards, company-sponsored leaves, domestic and international trips or gatherings, and free upskilling courses to deserving employees. Some of these can be extended to the employee’s family members too, he said.

For instance, the company recently sent some employees on a seven-day, all expenses covered trip to watch the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Travel to Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi was part of the itinerary.

This year, about 500 employees of Runaya Group, will be rewarded through ‘Well done!’ cards and formal rewards cards issued by managers or colleagues. “The accumulation of 3/5/7 cards will be rewarded with gift vouchers,” said Naivedya Agarwal, cofounder of Runaya. As part of a long-term incentive plan, Runaya’s employees will get a fixed amount as a percentage of CTC (cost to company) every year that will be disbursed in a span of three years.

“Annual recognitions are a thing of the past. We chose a new way of appreciating our employees by rewarding them with a customised award,” said Farzeen Khan, CHRO of Being Human Clothing. Earlier, the rewards were given only to front-end employees, but now the company has launched awards for both the front-end and back-end teams with a total of 500 employees. The award categories for 2023 are ‘Best Support Team Member’, ‘Grooming Star’, ‘Service Star’ and spot awards.

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