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Monday, Jun 13, 2005

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All work ... and more play

Anjali Prayag

If you meet targets, it's off to Hawaii. That was the promise made - and kept - by this IT company to its employees.

WHEN it comes to innovation in employee engagement and motivation, the crown should doubtless go to the IT sector. If ESOPs and like moves are not on the platter of perks offered to employees, then sure enough, there will soon be a big rush at the company's exit door.

But what Bangalore-based Speedera Networks has done in the area of employee motivation probably will set a new trend in the art of wooing the employee.

Last month, as a reward for performance, the entire staff of Speedera, based in Bangalore and Silicon Valley, was flown to Hawaii for a `dream holiday.' And what made the `foreign jaunt' different was that it involved all the employees.

And they could take along a spouse or a family member with Speedera footing 50 per cent of their bills too.

Commenting on this `expensive' indulgence, Ajit Gupta, CEO, SpeederaNetworks, says, "We wanted to be trendsetters and do something unusual."

Gupta says this trip makes good on a promise he had made to his employees last year that if they achieved their business targets then `they would all be on a beach in May.'

The moment the promise was made public, employee morale shot up. Every employee only had the Hawaiin destination in mind. And all of them, both at Bangalore and at Silicon Valley, worked feverishly towards the set target and in fact exceeded it. The company posted a revenue of $9 million for the quarter ending March 2005.

Why reward the entire workforce and not just the sales staff?Gupta says he believes it's not the sales guys alone who are responsible for a company's performance, it's always the result of the entire pool of employees that pitch in. And that's why Speedera decided to depart from the routine. "Usually, it's about 15-20 people from the sales department who enjoy these benefits. But I feel we should recognise every employee's performance."

Gupta also insisted that the US and Indian teams come together to celebrate the achievement. "It's an opportunity for both teams to bond more tightly and to celebrate the true spirit of a global company which we believe will make us an even more cohesive and productive company."

Of course, this was not easy for the travel agency that had to co-ordinate the schedules of over 200 people, arrange for their visas, tickets and stay.

"Some of them did not get their visas in the first round, we had to then shift our travel dates, which was a great logistics exercise."

"While most employees brought along spouses, some even brought their parents along," he says.

This will be the second time that the company has paid for a trip for employees to a tropical destination. In 2003, Speedera flew its US employees to Maui to celebrate the company achieving profitability in 2002.

For its employees here in India, this was the first holiday outside the country, though several such trips have been made within India, says the company's HR Manager, Arun Kumar.

Speedera Networks is a global provider of on-demand distributed hosting and content delivery services. In the last one year, it has doubled its workforce, now touching 120, with 55 of them in India. The company's revenue for the second quarter ended December 31, 2004, was $8.28 million, up 20 per cent from the previous quarter and a 49 per cent increase over second quarter 2003 revenue of $5.56 million.

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