Companies finding fun-filled ways to engage staff at work
There’s plenty to keep Deepti Gupta occupied at work. An assistant manager of marketing at Makemytrip, Gupta clocks in 9-10 hours a day, a given in an online company, and just about gets enough time to squeeze in one lunch break. But, the monotony of mails, calls and meetings is often broken up by a beach day, a Balinese Ramayana, kung fu lessons, or Valentine’s Day celebrations.
On Valentine’s Day, Makemytrip put a florist and a chocolate stall in office to help eager Valentines make an impression. Gupta could convey her affection for her colleagues through heart-shaped messages, which could be named or anonymous. Karaoke contests kept the day live and buzzing. “One does not really walk up to people daily to let them know they’re valued.
This gave me a chance to express my love for those close to me,” she says. For Women’s Day, her male colleagues got mailers from HR on doing something special for women teammates, and Gupta was greeted with cupcakes and flowers. The need to have fun at work has stemmed from the need to engage a predominantly young workforce. “Since we have a young workforce, we ensure our activities are attuned to their needs,” said a Makemytrip spokesperson.
Activities at the company were also linked to the new product launches in exotic destinations like Balinese Ramayana for Bali, Kung Fu for China and a bellydancing performance for Jordan. Companies are trying to match up to the pace of the millenials joining them, and are looking for fun ways to energise them. While Deutsche Bank started Zumba classes to step up the tempo last month, Snapdeal launched Beat the Monday Blues three months ago. The company has an average age of 26, and it finds it essential to keep introducing methods to keep employees interested. “Beat the Monday Blues is designed
coming to work on Monday. We organise a snack each Monday which can be anything like a samosa Monday or a doughnut day,” says Anupama Beri, head of HR. To keep stress levels at a minimum, senior team leaders are provided drivers and team members are eligible for a small amount of cash in case they wish to buy something from the site.
In the current fiscal, Accenture set up fun committees consisting of HR members and business heads to plan and execute various activities at a team/project level. Specific budgets are assigned for these and the decisions on the type of activity are made at the team level based on the interests and profile of the teams concerned.
Activities include short trips, hikes and picnics, cafeteria games and competitions, a BPO with balance programme for BPO employees, women’s Olympics, which includes competing in sports such as basketball, shotput, 100-metre race, a speech and evaluation contest and in-house music bands. Fractal Analytics, which has close to 650 employees, has a ‘Break-free forum’, which is responsible for fun and entertainment in the organisation. Each location has a break-free forum, which consists of 10-12 employees in their mid 20s.
They serve as fun ambassadors, initiating different activities ranging from recurring monthly activities to ad hoc celebrations and festivities to annual events like family day, sports events, festive celebrations on holi and diwali. “For a group of analysts getting lost in the maze of numbers and algorithms, a gaming room serves as an absolute breather.
The room has all forms of indoor games including fussball, carom board, chess and Xbox. Once every two weeks, employees are also encouraged to drop everything work related, and meet to discuss anything besides work,” says Garima Sharma, director, HR. Besides Zumba, Deutsche has organised a stepathlon, heritage walks in Mumbai, and the Deutsche Premier League, a box cricket night tournament which included female colleagues.
“We decided to offer our staff avenues to pursue varied interests in the office premises itself which they are unable to do so on account of time and travel commitments,” says Makarand Khatavkar, MD and head of HR. SAP Labs has 25 interest groups such as XQUIZIT for quiz enthusiasts; SAP Roadies for runners and cyclists and SAP FC, the official football team of SAP Labs India.
One of the most popular interest groups at SAP is Literati, a corporate book club with over 2,500 members. Since its inception in 2009, it has hosted more than 100 authors, including Shashi Tharoor, Amish Tripathi, Chetan Bhagat, and William Dalrymple. At HCL, employees use the internal social networking platform MEME to run online interest clubs for photography, food, pets and bikes.
The need to engage youngsters led Dabur to install a pool table in their campus a few months ago. The company also tied up with Cafe Coffee Day to set up a Cafe Coffee Day Express outlet. “If it is about clearing the air with somebody after a difficult conversation, employees like heading here,” says V Krishnan, executive VP, HR, Dabur.