Face to Face

Getting up close and personal with influencers and finding out the ideas and strategies that shape-up their vision.

Manoj Agarwal


In-depth analysis of Industries and companies and how they manage complex and
demanding business environment.

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Manoj Agarwal
Manoj Agarwal
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Our aim going forward is to grow organically to a USD 20 million organization serving to 500,000 guests globally.

Face to Face Description: 

Manoj comes with over 10 years of work experience in varied functions like Marketing, Technology, Products and Strategy. He holds B.Tech in Computer Science Engineer from PEC Chandigarh and MBA from IIM Kozhikode. He has worked in senior leadership positions in diverse fields like Education, IT and e-Commerce with companies like Yahoo, Manipal Education and Flipkart.

His strength lies in his ability to conceive and implement the strategic plans to identify new market opportunities, initiate product and service introductions, and negotiate strategic partnerships to drive market expansion and revenue growth. He also has proven track record of taking projects from the phase of ideation to launch in national and international markets. His experience has been very instrumental in bringing business and operational efficiencies in Manipal Education and Flipkart. He has also mentored some early stage start-ups to give them direction on sustaining and growing their business.

Manoj has been an active contributor to entrepreneurial eco-system during his MBA. He has been nominated for various national and international awards and has been an invitee in some key international conferences. Manoj is an active speaker in various prominent conferences. When he gets some time off from work Manoj likes to indulge in various sports and travel to new places.

Questions & Answers: 
How has the concept of employee engagement evolved over the years? What are today’s employees, channel and customers looking for in the companies they associate with?

The redefinition of employee appreciation was a result of the various challenges that arose in the pre-existing scheme of rewards and recognitions. The lack of enthusiasm in employees receiving awards, trophies and mementos was becoming apparent. As a result of which companies started celebrating personal occasions of employees like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and rewarding them for professional achievements as well. For instance, there are rewards like Employee Referrals, SPOT Awards, Team Awards and Long Service Awards. Similar reward programs have been initiated for clients and channel partners as well.

Today, corporates provide a wider range of experiences in the form of Rewards and Recognitions (RnR). Companies have begun to realize the value of their human resources and are rewarding them accordingly to build a strong organizational culture, improve performance, productivity and drive ownership. Most organizations now have a well-defined HR policy framework for the entire employee lifecycle that enables them to decide the size of rewards and the nature of recognitions they give away.

How important are rewards and recognitions to attracting and retaining good talent? Why do companies need to build these into their HR strategies?

Every organization strives to build a high performance workforce by engaging with its employees. Retention, motivation and engagement turn into buzzwords as organizations strive to leverage their human capital to the fullest. In India, any talent related discussion draws instant attention. According to a recent research on talent management, the IT and the ITeS sectors witness annual attrition rates of 30-45 percent. The scenario is not altogether different in other industries. It has now become imperative to develop, nurture, engage and retain talent. 
Rewards and Recognitions (RnR) form a significant component of any organization’s strategy. As the right kind of RnR help in keeping employees motivated and committed to their jobs, organizations are looking towards adopting a fresh and innovative approach to appreciate and applaud their employees.

According to a 2013 research, 73 percent of organizations that were rated as great places to work by employees had a daily frequency of recognition programs. In contrast, only 18 percent of other organizations did so. Likewise, 60 percent of organizations rated as great places also had a weekly frequency of recognition while only 12 percent of other organizations did something similar. In fact, it won’t be an over-statement to say that the corporate concept of rewards and recognitions is changing fast. Employees are welcoming new approaches to RnR, such as peer-to-peer rewards and gifting of experiences, vouchers and activities. They are also engaging more with the newer rewards technologies that are being adopted by their organizations.

Why must organizations automate their rewards programs and how does xoxoday help them in this task?

When RnR meets streamlining and automation, organizations benefit not just by rewarding employees with unique gifts, but also by ensuring that their RnR systems are well managed and executed. A good RnR platform provides a reward points system for organizations and employees. These points can be redeemed against rewards such as experiences, vouchers and activities. Such a modern platform is scalable, flexible and localizable and in accordance with a company’s strategy, presence and the mindset of its employees.

Organizations endorsing Enterprise, the RnR technology of Xoxoday, see their employees interact socially and appreciate the gestures and efforts of their peers. They showcase their top performers on the leader board on a live and updated basis. Employees get to enjoy unique experiences and activities which imbibe learnings from them. Organizations get to monitor their reward spends and deploy people analytics to ensure that their employees stay happy and productive. Last but not the least, these organizations save taxes with their innovatively designed rewards programs and are able to integrate the tool with their existing HR systems, including fresh aspects such as employee fitness modules and wellness programs. They are also equipped to scale their tools across geographies and functions.

Why and how did xoxoday decide to enter this domain considering there are not too many players addressing this market? How is the company different from others who are also targeting this area?

Xoxoday was started as a group gifting company in 2012. The “gift” word in the erstwhile company name ‘Giftxoxo’ suggested that the company was in the space of providing gift items for people. Having started off as a gifting company, it rang a bell. The model however, has transformed over a period of time and they have taken pivots interim.

New gifting trends were evolving in the world, key among them ‘Experiences as Gifts’. Gifting experiences, was quite a new concept in India in 2013 and surely enough they had an early mover advantage. This concept was quite popular in the American and European markets but the same had been barely tried in India. It was decided that the experiences could be skydiving, related to wellness such as Egyptian Spa or a farming experience in a Village, etc. They started curating many such beautiful experiences and make them available to people for gifting. The existing corporate gifting channel was used to sell these experiences as gifts for employees and clients. It gave a tangible feel to experiences—where they compiled similarly priced experiences in a box and let the person choose one from the set. This product was very well appreciated in the market as it gave the flexibility and the freedom to choose the desired experience.

Eventually, there was a demand in the market to automate and digitize the overall employee rewards programs in the corporate. They built an enterprise SaaS based platform, for corporates through which they could digitize their total rewards program for employees.

What are some of the ways in which organizations are rewarding and recognizing employees and what are the innovative offerings from xoxoday that create a wow experience?

RnR includes end-to-end rewards and recognitions program management across the employee client lifecycle. For any organization, these RnR instances include, but are not limited to, Employee Referral Rewards, SPOT Awards, Team Awards, Joining Delights, Festival Rewards, Rewards for Personal Occasions, Peer-to-peer Rewards, Long Service Awards and Employee Farewell Rewards.
The salient features of Xoxoday’s RnR solutions are:

  • End-to-end RnR program management across organizations
  • Unprecedented RnR customization, flexibility and scalability
  • International consulting approach with localized RnR strategy
  • Multi-cultural RnR with unique rewards according to employee preferences
  • Global Communication and RnR Logistics setup
  • People Analytics and Data Systems
  • Global Integration and Implementation
  • Exhaustive Rewards Catalog comprising Experiences, Activities and Vouchers
  • Full compatibility with Mobile, PC and other devices
  • Highly secure infrastructure and frameworks
  • Cloud-based hosting and SaaS platform capabilities
  • Fast and easy implementation of platform
  • Right from requirement gathering to rewards redemption, Xoxoday stays by the sides of its clients, ensuring that the RnR systems work seamlessly and effectively. We at Xoxoday are committed to smoothly transitioning our clients from other RnR endorsing entities to highly effective RnR system-based organization.
What do you have in terms of products and services for smaller companies/start-ups? How are you helping them engage better with the employees?

They have customized modules for every bit of RnR requirements including employee RnR, client RnR, RnR systems and programs and other requirements which may be ad hoc in nature and may arise from time to time. The RnR solutions are truly global in nature and ensure that the outreach is far and wide.

The exhaustive rewards catalog includes unique experiences, activities and vouchers, and is used to ensure the client’s employees and customers gather life-long memories instead of perishable possessions. The experiences offered, span across categories such as adventure, gourmet, tours, getaways, wellness, hobbies and social impact. Owing to their personalized and human touch, these activities help establish a strong connect between the client and its employees or customers.
Cloud based SaaS RnR platform, Enterprise, is designed to take care of all RnR program management needs. Together with experiences, Enterprise ensures that clients’ RnR programs stands effectively managed as well as executed, in turn engaging their employees on a long-term basis.

How are employees responding to your unique offering of gifting experiences, alongside traditional products and services? What is the feedback?

The feedback has been highly positive. Employees of the millennial generation want to invest their time doing activities that cater to their passions, interests, adventure and romance. Experiences fit naturally into their scheme of things as they want to make every moment count and cherish every memory make them worth sharing like stories. They want to look back at their past with pride, enjoy every moment in the present and live the future full of adventure and uncertainty. They love to be open to life, meet new people, have lots of fun and regret nothing at the end of the day.

Today, the concept of experiences has spread much beyond theatres and theme parks. Employees want real life thrill and won’t settle for anything less. They prefer experiences over assets, freedom over stereotypes and memories over boredom. Employees are welcoming the new approaches to RnR such as peer-to-peer rewards and gifting of experiences, vouchers and activities. The level of engagement is very high.

How big would you say is this niche space where xoxoday has made a mark and how do you see it growing in the years forward?

People are bored and are keen to explore. Xoxoday provides those options. These options are experiences that a person remembers for a longer period. These include experiences in India and abroad.

Xoxoday currently has over 700 enterprises which include many corporate giants across industries. It has served over 200,000 guests till last year through around 5,000 registered partners across the country. Xoxoday also helps enterprises make their employee reward programs much more interesting. These experiences can bring excitement in their existing programs and employees would love this fresh outlook.

Xoxoday has built a platform that enables hosting of authentic experiences and makes them available for guests to explore and book on the go! Xoxoday has been able to build a community of over 5000 hosts globally. Various brands, venture owners and passionate professionals are invited to host their experiences and earn an extra Mile. It’s free to host an experience with Xoxoday!

Who are your customers and how have their benefited from your solutions?

Some companies that have started using these experiences are Accenture, Infosys, Adobe, and Microsoft, and start-ups such as Ola, Furlenco and Snapdeal.

What is the way forward for xoxoday? What are your future plans?

To grow organically to a USD 20 million organization serving to 500,000 guests globally. Additionally:

  • Continue to grow inorganically through strategic alliances and acquisitions
  • Strengthen the technology which serves Hosts, Guests and Enterprise Services
  • Reposition the Xoxoday Brand to disrupt the market
  • Entering new markets, penetrating deeper into existing markets through brand and product re-definition
  • Seek fresh funding to take the next leap in growth