For the past two years, R. Deva has enthusiastically looked forward to the last two weeks of the year. At this time, his bag contains, apart from a laptop, a special Santa costume, complete with flowing beard and a box of chocolates.
He is one of several volunteers, part of the ‘Become a Santa’ initiative at Infosys Chennai. “We go to various orphanages, collect wish lists from children and put them up on our employee forums. Employees pick the gifts they can afford, and sponsor them,” says Deva.
The wishes can range from a simple crayon set and a mobile phone to a pair of slippers or sometimes even a police uniform.
“We want them to be as imaginative as possible, but they often ask for ordinary gifts. Last year, there was a huge demand for Robo toys,” he says.
This need to spread festive cheer among less-privileged sections of the society seems to be especially in force in companies in December. As part of Christmas and New Year initiatives, volunteers approach orphanages, old age homes and slums.
“It is about the general atmosphere of festivity that is seen everywhere this season. Many of our clients are on holiday too, and we receive gifts from them. Even the emails have season’s blings on them,” says Anandroopa, an employee of Wipro.
For many IT companies which aim to highlight their multiculturalism, celebrations at this time of the year which also coincide with global festivities, are a sure-shot way to impressing international clients, and eventually, success.
Now that IT companies are attempting to also hire employees from foreign countries, such celebrations also strike a chord with potential employees and existing clients, says R. K. Balakrishnan, a consultant with IT companies.
In most companies, specific teams work out budgets, and take a good look at catalogues, online stores and corporate gift websites to find the right items to gift clients with. Offices are jazzed up with decorations to add to the festive cheer.
“We had a bay decorating competition where employees put up little caves with dolls portraying the story of the birth of Jesus, with cotton and LED lighting. Some people with guitars showed up, sung carols and distributed candy,” says an employee of CSS Corp. Carol singing and Christmas trees too, are common.
Most companies spend almost 60 per cent of their corporate social responsibility resources in the last two months of the year, with Deepavali, Christmas and New Year coming up, says Mr. Balakrishnan.
“The fact is, most companies have started celebrating all important festivals to make their employees feel good about the workplace,” he adds. Small clay lamps placed on the edges of walls during Deepavali are replaced with electric bulbs during Christmas,” he adds.