Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cost cutting takes away fun at workplaces

The economic downturn has taken away the fun moments among employees at work as most of the companies are increasingly cut monetary rewards and prizes for in-house entertainment activities, as part of cost cutting measures. Indoors funs such as dumb charades, lotto and pictionary have lost their charm due to the lack of encouragement from management, reported The Times of India.

While companies had offered even iPods and iPhones as prizes during good times, they are now cautious on giving costlier prizes. A TCS employee said, "The regular lunches and picnics stopped all of a sudden. Even the indoor games we play lack enthusiasm as there is no prize. Previously one could expect either cash or a gift as a prize." She also said that employees have started to pool money among themselves to go out and have some fun or gift themselves cash prizes.

Some firms had budgets of Rs.50 lakh to Rs.10 crore for employee entertainment annually. With cutting the budgets, many companies have either deployed or retrenched their fun officers, who are responsible to keep employees young and motivated. Moreover, star hotels get only a few numbers of bookings for fun related employee events from companies. They have reported a 20 percent drop in such events. Even 'family day' celebrations are getting delayed. For instance, SAP, the software product company, has indefinitely postponed its family day bash slated for November as it has frozen all fun-related spending.Additionally, "Clients who we were working for had stopped sending money for our entertainment. Depending on the size of the teams, clients would send the company Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 per quarter per team member towards entertainment," said a former Infosys employee. Many firms have also axed funds for sporting events like badminton and table tennis. "People who are in charge of creating fun on the floor are being moved to other departments or are quitting. In some cases, people with fun portfolios are put to dual roles in HR, admin, sales," mentioned, Karthik Shekhar, Secretary General of the BPO union UNITES."BPO and call center firms had 'fun at work' teams of up to 20 people. These teams are now getting disintegrated as company-funded fun is almost on the verge of extinction, although monthly cultural programs are still on," noted an official at a city-BPO firm

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