Your employees are what make your business run smoothly. You do what you can to reward them; you offer verbal appreciation, annual holiday gifts, and a generous contribution to their retirement funds. Yet, you’ve had a truly amazing year, with profits through the roof. You want to thank them in a very special way, one that they won’t forget anytime soon.

So, you start planning a company vacation. Company vacations can be a wonderful way not only to show your employees that you value what they do, but to help build team spirit, as well.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you put your company vacation plans together:

  • Get employee input. It’s one thing to simply decide that you want to take the entire company to your favorite golfing resort, it’s quite another to provide them with a vacation opportunity that everyone will enjoy. Talk with your employees (all of them if it’s a small business, or at least key employees if it’s not) and get some ideas about what they’d like to see from a company vacation.
  • Establish a participation policy and stick to it. For example, you might just be taking your sales team. You might be taking the entire company. You might want to bring families along, as well. Think long and hard about who will be included in the company trip. You can create a lot of infighting, jealousy, and departmental friction if you make the wrong choices here.
  • Decide on a family policy. It’s only natural that your employees may wish to bring family members along on a company vacation. As it’s not strictly a business trip, this usually shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, you’ll probably create more problems than you solve if you tell employees that their families aren’t allowed to attend. You also need to determine what family costs – if any – the company is willing to pay. You don’t have an obligation to provide for family travel costs, of course, and those with smaller families and single employees might feel slighted if you foot the bill for a large family.
  • Leverage any existing travel agreements you might have. If you’re running a small business that does very little travel, chances are you don’t regularly work with a travel agent, or have specific corporate travel partners. However, if you’re an enterprise and regularly work with someone, talk to them about the best options for booking your company vacation.
  • Plan some company-wide activities. Part of the purpose of the company vacation is team-building, of course. After all, if it were merely reward for a job well done you could simply send each employee a travel voucher and let them go wherever they wanted. Try to have the activities center around the local flavor, but do be conscious of employee limitations. For example, SCUBA diving in the Caribbean might sound like fun, but chances are you have some employees that aren’t interested in or up for the task. A Hawaiian luau, on the other hand, is something that just about everyone would probably attend and enjoy.
  • Make it a learning opportunity. Attending an industry convention can be a great way to not only reward your employees and do some bonding, but also to learn some new skills, discover new tools, or just stay current in your industry.
  • Be frugal but not cheap. You’re going to want to save money where you can, of course. Ask for group discounts on hotels, airfare, and more. Consider off-season travel destinations for significant savings. Don’t cut corners, however; signs that you’re simply being cheap can rub your employees the wrong way.
  • Be clear about your expectations. If you expect that your employees will participate in some business-related activities – which isn’t unreasonable – make sure they know that ahead of time. Give them a full schedule, and be clear about what’s expected. The same goes for attending conventions or conferences; if you expect employee attendance at a seminar, make that clear. This goes for behavioral expectations, as well; vacations are a time when folks are likely to let loose, so if you’re not prepared to see that happen then you should probably say so ahead of time.

A company vacation can be a wonderful group-building experience, a tremendous employee-retention tool, and a significant morale-booster. Take each of these principles into account, and you’re sure to have a successful, relaxing, and even productive company vacation.

Image courtesy shazwan

About the author: Sam Wilson is Social Media Coordinator at Hawaii Aloha, a travel agency specializing in Hawaiian vacation packages and Hawaiian cruises. Hawaii Aloha is the leading travel agency in Hawaii, with offices in Honolulu, Oahu.

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