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Staff motivation? Take them to Hawaii

June 04, 2005 16:56 IST

Number of wedding rings that now sit at the bottom of the ocean after an account manager did a back-flip off the catamaran while snorkelling: one.

And that's just one of the many statistical snapshots provided by an enthusiastic Speedera Networks employee after returning from a company-sponsored trip that gave a new dimension to employee motivation.

Last month, as a reward for exceeding its stated business goals, Speedera -- a provider of distributed application hosting and content delivery services -- flew its entire worldwide staff for a four-day stay at a Hawaiian resort destination.

Human resource management doesn't come much fancier. "Our intention was to be trend-setters, to do something no one has done before," says Ajit Gupta, president and CEO, Speedera.

Gupta says the idea first came to him when he saw the concept at work in Oracle, where he was employed a few years ago. "But there only the top 5 per cent performers from the sales department were taken on a vacation and this struck me as slightly unfair. I felt the model should be changed to include the entire workforce."

He got his way. Around 120 employees -- representing Speedera's workforce in the United States and in India -- made it to Hawaii and counting relatives there were 200 people on the trip in all.

Besides funding its employees, the company paid for 50 per cent of the airfare for spouses/companions as well, and made arrangements for visa applications.

"It was an immense logistical challenge, especially getting the visas together and coordinating dates for the US-based and India-based employees but we were confident about pulling it off."

The planning for the trip began around three months ago. To get the employees charged up in advance, an internal tropical theme campaign was launched.

"The offices were transformed to look like tropical islands," says Gupta, "We handed out postcards and brochures touting the attractions of theHilton Waikoloa resort in Kona, which was to be the location."

The objective of the trip, apart from rewarding the employees, was to create a synergy between employees at all levels. "Apart from the expected activities such as snorkelling and submarine rides, we had many motivational team-building exercises," says Gupta.

"For instance, younger employees were encouraged to guess things about people in senior management -- what their aspirations were as children, what their first cellphone was, and so on. There was much sharing of experiences and I believe it's helped our teams to bond much better than anytime in the past."

He's probably right, if you go by that informal statistical survey mentioned earlier. Despite tongue-in-cheek references to mishaps like minor car accidents and ants in clothes drawers, the last item on the list reads "Number of people who were glad they went to Hawaii: all of us."
Jai Arjun Singh