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Should annual company gatherings be canceled in China?

Japanese actress Takizawa Rola was invited to the annual gathering of Qihoo360. Photo: sina.com

At the end of the year, big Chinese companies are busy preparing for their annual gatherings in which their staff eat, drink and give performances to celebrate their achievements during the passing year. Apart from promoting exchanges among the staff and improving morale, the gatherings aim to attract talents by creating a fashionable and generous image.

But what excites staff members most during these gatherings is the lucky draws. The prizes of some big companies even include luxury cars, air tickets and bountiful cash.

Apart from generous prizes, companies have been coming up with other new ideas. Qihoo360, a Chinese software company, invited well-known Japanese actress Takizawa Rola to add color to their annual gathering.

On the contrary, US companies seem to have no interest in holding extravagant annual gatherings. A Google employee surnamed Liu told sina.com that he went home directly after receiving a fat bonus from the company. He said that he could feel Google’s culture every day by working in the fashionable office and talking to smart colleagues. “I don’t see any need for Google to give away expensive prizes or invite well-known actors to help attract attention”.

Hao, who has been working in the US only for one year, told sina.com that he also went back to China after receiving a bonus. “Our company had no budget for a large gathering. You should feel lucky if your boss can treat you to a simple dinner,” he said.

US companies have more strict budgetary controls. They don’t hold any extravagant annual gatherings because they think it consumes large amounts of money without any returns.

However, Chinese state-owned enterprises have canceled their annual gatherings since the Eight-Point Rules were released by the government in December 2012. An executive of a bank in Nanjing told china.com.cn, “We used to have a lot of gatherings with our staff and customers at the end of the year and these gatherings often took place in five-star hotels such as Hilton. A table of food cost at least 4,000 yuan–5,000 yuan ($655–$820). Now we have canceled all of them in response to the call of the government.”

According to china.com.cn, some Chinese privately owned companies have also “shrunk” their gatherings and prizes. “Our prizes were Focus cars last year, but they are down to iPhones and iPads this year. Although the prizes became smaller and cheaper, we are still envied by the staff of other companies,” said Li Xi, sales manager of a listed high-tech company based in Nanjing.

“We are happy to cancel the annual gathering. We can save much money and don’t need to think our brains out to prepare for it,” said Shan Xiaojuan, an executive of a bank. But what makes her worried is that some of their customers are concerned about the gathering and ask about it. “We need to think more about the quality of our service in the future to maintain the relationships with our customers,” she said.

Zhang Jie, professor of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences of Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, told china.com.cn, “Publicity is important to some companies, but whether an extravagant annual gathering can reflect the business culture of a company and improve morale is doubtful. At least the annual gathering should pass positive energy.”

(Edited by Billie Feng)


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