Giving staff hongbao a top CNY tradition for SMEs: Poll

Five Aluminium Boat and Engineering managing director Edmund Long (at right) giving out red packets to his staff to thank them for their hard work and contributions in the past year.
Five Aluminium Boat and Engineering managing director Edmund Long (at right) giving out red packets to his staff to thank them for their hard work and contributions in the past year.PHOTO: OCBC

Giving out red packets or hongbao to employees is one of the top Chinese New Year traditions practised by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), a recent survey has found.

OCBC Bank, which surveyed some of its SME clients, noted: "Business owners view this as a gesture of gratitude and appreciation to thank their staff for their hard work and contributions in the past year."

Another popular Chinese New Year practice is to have "a massive office buffet or having a lunch or dinner" to wrap up the year, before ringing in the next.

Firms said they see it as an opportunity to bring the company together to celebrate a festive occasion.

Mr Edmund Long, managing director of Five Aluminium Boat and Engineering, which is an OCBC customer, said: "Chinese New Year has always been the most anticipated event for us. It not only marks the beginning of the new year in the Chinese calendar, but it is also a time for us to show our appreciation to all our employees for their hard work and contributions in the past year.

"As a token of our gratitude, we give them hongbao to wish them good luck... and prosperity for the new year. We also have our very own reunion dinner."

The OCBC survey also found that for the first day of Chinese New Year, some SME owners do not issue cheques but deposit them instead, because of superstitions that suggest any form of loss. Others engage in traditional gift-giving practices, including placing two mandarin oranges on each worker's desk to wish him good luck and prosperity.

Rachael Boon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'Giving staff hongbao a top CNY tradition for SMEs: Poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe