HR Strange But True

Working at This Innovative Company Is Really a Trip

An innovative company in San Francisco not only has a unique way of securing new products but also an out-of-the-box way to get its employees carried away—literally.

Betabrand is an online “clothing community” that designs, manufactures, and releases new products conceived by its “fans,” codesigned by staff and fans into prototypes, and finally “crowdfunded” into product development and production in only a matter of weeks.

Among its big hits to date are Dress Pant Yoga Pants, Executive Hoodies (wonder what CEO would buy that), and safety-conscious Bike-to-Workwear for ecocommuters.

Betabrand founder Chris Lindland endeavors to interact with employees and treat employees fairly.  Last fall, in conversations with employees, he found that many of his workers had never had a chance to travel abroad, mainly because of financial obligations.

Then, the same mindset that helped him develop his company kicked in, and Lindland had a great idea—centralize and funnel corporate spending through a Capital One double miles card so employees could experience eye-opening adventures abroad.

“Many firms earn miles to offset executive travel,” says Lindland. “And while this makes sense from an expense point of view, sending employees on adventures does wonders for morale and retention, something harder to put a price on.”

According to a company press release, every 6 to 8 weeks, the company earns enough miles through fabric and marketing expenses to send one employee on a 4-day trip, covering flight and hotel expenses—and passport fees!

And Lindland made sure Betabrand does not deduct the employee’s trip from their vacation time; the trips are booked over weekends, so employees are only out 2 to 3 workdays.

“Any company can make this minor spending shift and introduce the “FlyAway” program into the workplace.” So far, Betabrand employees have made like Anthony Bourdain and visited Iceland, Ireland, and France.

When the next international traveler is selected at an all-hands meeting,  the entire company shares in the fun! Since the company covers only transportation and hotel, says the press release, the person who traveled last is obligated to put on a “Fun Raiser” for the next adventurer’s additional expenses (food, drinks, and tacky souvenirs) a few days before his or her trip. Employees and friends are invited to a bar, and the hat is passed. This way, everyone’s invested in the adventure.

And to keep employees who have already travelled overseas (and have passports), there are sporadic “next-day challenges” —contests to see who’s willing to drop everything and fly somewhere totally unexpected the next day!

Travelers are asked to send social media dispatches throughout their trip, so coworkers can live vicariously through their experiences!