How can holidays form part of a staff motivation strategy?

palm trees

In January 2016, travel firm the Group Company rewarded its 32 members of staff with a three-day trip to Barbados to celebrate the organisation’s 10th anniversary. The five-star, all-inclusive break aimed to recognise the part that employees played in the firm’s growth trajectory.

Helen Bilton, founder of the Group Company, said: “Holidays are a great incentive because they’re a chance to get to know each other better on a personal basis, especially for staff from different departments. This allows employees to create collective memories as an organisation.

“Our trip was a great focal point for target setting, and added a fun element to meetings. We had an amazing time, and came back happy, motivated and closer to one another. To be able to sit on a banqueting table on a perfect white sandy beach, with every one of my team around me, and thank them in person for all that they have done to build this organisation over the last 10 years, made me feel very grateful, happy and proud.”

As a travel firm, offering a holiday as a reward aligns the form of recognition with the nature of the business.

Software asset management firm Snow Software, meanwhile, utilises staff trips to motivate employees to meet the organisation’s annual growth target, and reward them if this is achieved. After successfully reaching its 90% growth target in 2015, the firm took all of its 430 members of staff on a ski trip.

Matt Fisher, vice-president of marketing at Snow Software, said: “The trip is part of a wider strategy to incentivise employees to feel encouraged and engaged at work. The trip is not merely a holiday; four days are spent re-invigorating colleagues at the start of a new year with three left for leisure and networking with colleagues from around the world.

“It is the people who have been on the trips before who are the most enthusiastic and drive newer team mates to succeed for next year.”

In addition to serving as an effective motivation tool, the trip also represents a good return on investment in Snow Software’s employees.

“We spent between half a million and a million pounds [on it] this year, but growth in the past 12 months was well in excess of £10 million, so the return on investment is strong. It is also a key part of our recruitment strategy, and our wider engagement strategy,” added Fisher.

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Offering staff holidays as an incentive and reward has traditionally focused around high-performing individuals or teams, and particularly around sales targets. However, organisations that offer trips now are more likely to do so in recognition of a broader range of employee successes, explained David Wreford, a principal, and senior reward consultant at Mercer.

Wreford said: “The provision of paid trips as a benefit to employees is rare, but employers are continually looking for ways to enhance benefits where possible. As a general rule, this means funding benefits that are attractive to employees, at a cost that is less than the employee can access it [at], that supports the values of the organisation, and that does not create an administrative burden.”