Insurance & Financial Meetings Management – May/June 2006
"Turbocharged Teambuilding" by Diana Rowe
In lieu of traditional teambuilding events, many corporations are selecting activities that benefit an entire community or charity. Socially responsible teambuilding is the brainchild of Impact 4 Good. Their programs are designed to improve communication and increase performance among teams, while building awareness of the importance of community service.
Alan Ranzer, executive director of Impact 4 Good, said, "What we have done is forge partnerships with non-profits to create activities based on their needs. We feel that a teambuilding activity can benefit employees and the developing world at the same time."
One such partnership benefits Jamaican bee farmers of the All Island Bee Farmers Association (AIBFA), a beekeeper co-op of sorts. In a country whose economy is dependent mainly on tourism, beekeeping has the potential to become a multimillion dollar industry – if appropriate materials and technical assistance are provided. More than 350 attendees of Citi Commercial Business Group’s annual Circle of Excellence program took time out of their incentive trip to take part in building beehives for Jamaican beekeepers.
Barbara Blumhof, manager of events for Citi Commercial Business Group, really wanted this year’s teambuilding activity to be out of the ordinary. Considering Citigroup’s commitment to the global community and volunteerism, she presented two proposals for teambuilding, but according to Blumhof, "Building beehives gave us an activity that allowed us to give back rather than take back from our visit to the island, but it wasn’t until the planning process tha twe really became excited. Impact 4 Good made all the connections on the island on our behalf. The challenge was getting the shipment through customs, but the end result was definitely worth the hassle."
Upon arrival at the Ritz-Carlton Golf and Spa Resort Rose Hall, Jamaica, Blumhof promoted the totally elective opportunity for teambuilding upon the Friday arrival, and then again at the end of the Saturday morning business session. To keep the "buzz" going, Blumhof wore a beekeeper’s hat and handed out bee headbands.
"All we asked attendees was to give us 15-20 minutes of their free time, stop by and lend a hand building beehives before enjoying their afternoon," Blumhof said. "We were totally amazed at the response! Our attendees never went to the pool, instead electing to head straight for the lawn where we had set up. We could have built 100 beehives that day, instead of only 30!
"On Monday morning, the head of the Jamaican bee co-op, two officers, and several beekeepers arrived at the Ritz," Blumhof related. "We did a ceremonial presentation of the hives, and they spoke to the audience about their operation and presented our group with a plaque. This experience taught me that our Citigroup employees are a very unselfish group of people, and I’m proud to be a part of this organization."
For those planners without Jamaica on their radar, other beehive opportunities exist in our own country. During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, more than 2,500 beehives were lost in Louisiana, and Impact 4 Good is currently working with the Louisiana Beekeepers Association on a socially responsible teambuilding program to empower other corporations to give back within the borders of the United States.