If you were told you could put your feet up and take a nap in office, would you think Santa Claus came your way a bit early in the year? In case you think one is spinning a yarn, be assured this is no dream.

Increasingly, Indian companies are opening their doors and minds to unconventional and even fun methods of unwinding that can bring the zing back in their employees. From power nap rooms, culinary workshops to raising your mug for beer, perks are not just about money. This New Year choose the concepts you would like your HR to introduce at your workplace, pronto.

Sleep at work

When Radhika Iyer, an assistant manager at CBay Systems, Mumbai, mentioned the Crash-out Room at her office where employees can take a quick nap, her friends thought she was a master storyteller. CBay Systems is a medical transcription, medical billing and coding services company which has round-the-clock operations. “I was taken aback when I first joined the organization and was told about it," she recalls. “I had quit my previous software organization due to stress and here I was told, there is a room where I can sleep."

Work is fun too: (clockwise from top) employees enjoy a game of foosball at the Chill Zone, RPG House, Mumbai; dartboard practice at Chill Zone, RPG House; 10-minute naps at the Crash-out Room refresh employees at CBay Systems, Mumbai; and co-workers learn to make chocolates at Broadridge Financial Solutions, Hyderabad.

Why it works: Sanjay Shanmugaum, vice-president, human resources, CBay Systems explains, “Employee health is a top most concern for us. With this objective in mind, we have set up Break-out Rooms (with recreational facilities such as table tennis and dart games) and Crash-out Rooms for our employees. They are aimed at relieving physical and mental stress." The company has found that these rooms have proved to be a “hit" and has resulted in “an increased inter-employee interaction, thus increasing a sense of belonging with the company". The high point, says Shanmugaum, is that “these rooms have projected a ‘we-care’ attitude for CBay Systems, thus aiding in higher (employee) retention".

Project robot

When competitiveness at work transcends to play, it sharpens one’s game. And when there’s a cash award thrown in, there’s no reason to complain. Progress Software India (PSI), Hyderabad, holds BotWars (a game in which competitors make robots and then teams compete with each other’s robots) every quarter, called PSI Robocode competition and Age of Empires tournament. These are held not just for fun but also to pose a challenge to employees at computer educational games. Kiran Kumar, software engineer, who took part in the Robocode competition, says, “It is relaxation from work. As one is engrossed during after work hours at something that is intellectually stimulating, it is immensely challenging to be a part of such competitions at the workplace with one’s colleagues and teammates."

Why it works: Sachin Hejip, director, centre for enterprise in progress division, PSI, explains: “As a product company, we need to find ways to think on our feet and out of the box. We are also very self-driven and expect a lot in terms of communication from our team members. These events, organized by the employees themselves, help to improve soft skills—providing employees excellent opportunities of learning and growth outside of their regular work. We also give cash awards to the winners ranging from Rs10,000-20,000, depending on the event."

Hobby central

If it is games for some organizations, then it is about developing hobbies for others. Broadridge Financial Solutions (India) Pvt. Ltd, a financial services company, Hyderabad, organizes creative workshops where employees can learn the art of origami and calligraphy and how to make chocolate, pots and diyas, and puppets. The families of employees can take part too.

After every workshop, employees fill up a feedback form, sharing their experiences and also give recommendations on how to improve these workshops. The company organizes future workshops based on this feedback.

Why it works: These initiatives are conducted on Sundays to ensure employees can come with their families," says Rajita Kumar, head, human resources, Broadridge Financial Solutions. “The aim is to explore new creative ideas and spend time together."

Let the beer flow

Most organizations throw parties quarterly, half yearly or annually. But NetApp India, Bangalore, organizes a beer bash every Friday evening with unlimited beer on the tap for its employees. Needless to say, it is the most awaited day of the week. “We look forward to the lively, chilled-out social evenings for a heavy dose of fun, laughter, camaraderie and office chit-chats. It is a great way to de-stress, unwind and connect with the fellas," says Keith Dias, workplace resources director, NetApp.

Why it works: S.R. Manjunath, senior director, HR, NetApp India, says: “We have social evenings over drinks and snacks where employees can unwind and connect with their colleagues at an informal level, irrespective of their designations. This helps in narrowing the gap between employee and employer. We also have Nintendo Wii, table tennis, and other indoor games. Initiatives like these build camaraderie within the employees and strengthen team-building initiatives."

Chill Zone

From a mixed bag of games (adventurous ones too for the sporty types) to listening to music to even enjoying a quiet read, the Chill Zone at RPG House (earlier known as Ceat Mahal), Mumbai, has something for everyone. There is a music station, a video games section with an LCD television and recliners, a mini library (books, CDs, DVDs), a pool table, chess and carrom sets, a table-tennis board and a dart board too. Interestingly, the zone also has a punching bag to vent out your anger, when the going gets tough. Employees can use the facilities anytime during work hours and even after work. Vinod Kumar, head marketing, Ceat, who plays games at the zone every day, says, “The range of games available is exciting. I also feel it helps in bonding with team members, as the informal atmosphere here helps in having work-related discussions in a relaxed and open manner."

Why it works: The Chill Zone is a perfect example of how the organization trusts its employees, says Arvind Agrawal, president and chief executive, corporate development and HR, RPG Enterprises. “While there will be no negotiations on deliverables by allowing employees to use office time for recreation, it re-emphasizes its trust on the fact that employees are responsible human beings who know what is expected from them and are focussed on deadlines. It also provides them with the much needed stress-buster, making RPG a fun place to work for."

Isn’t it time you send your wish list to your HR?

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