How to Plan a Successful Company Retreat

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In today’s business environment, the adage to “work hard, play hard” has become just work hard for many companies. Employees are hard charging and with unemployment so low, some companies are working harder than ever with fewer team members. Although working hard is important, balance is critical to long-term success. Given the demand for more work and seemingly fewer team members on which to rely, many businesses face the acute challenge of keeping employees engaged, energized, and happy.

One strategy to help tackle employee engagement and morale is an all company retreat. It’s not complicated and certainly isn’t new, but despite their effectiveness, company retreats are an underutilized tool. In fact, a 2017 survey from Robert Half Management Resources found that upwards of 80% of companies don’t host annual company retreats. Talk about a missed opportunity!

If you’re one of the 20% of companies that prioritize a retreat, good for you. If you’re not, now is the time to seriously consider planning one. They don’t have to be over-the-top or break the bank. The best retreats aren’t a luxury weekend at a secluded getaway. Rather, they’re designed to be both fun and educational and take into account your team’s various personalities.

Annual Retreats Bring Benefits

Gathering your team together, especially if you have multiple or dispersed locations, provides plenty of benefits. Many studies have shown that teams with improved communication are more productive. Happy employees are also more motivated. All company retreats are the ideal time and place for team building exercises that will get your team members more in tune with one another and working smarter.

Additionally, it’s imperative for businesses of all sizes to ensure that their employees understand their company’s mission and vision. Prioritizing those key values will provide much needed direction and encouragement. Furthermore, an annual refresher on a company’s mission will keep your team energized.

Simply put, employees who are engaged in their company and enjoy their coworkers make for better teams, which deliver improved business outcomes. All company retreats, when organized correctly, are a vital strategy in keeping your team engaged and energized.

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Get Creative with Retreats

One way to make a retreat special and still keep it cost effective is to get creative with team building exercises or outings. Escape rooms and indoor skydiving are two options that can meet the needs of various teams, including size and adventurousness. Ax throwing has even become popular as a team outing in some areas.

Building something together can be fun and reinforce the power of teamwork. It’s yet another way to get creative. For example, pottery and cooking classes will inject levity into a company retreat and help with team building.

Incorporating these types of creative elements will make an all company retreat more memorable and impactful. To add some suspense to the retreat, consider keeping these fun and creative components a secret. Let your team know that a surprise is coming, but don’t reveal the details until the retreat is underway!

10 Tips for a Successful All Company Retreat

You may understand the need for an all company retreat, but how do you get there? It’s crucial to have the right amount of planning and investment. That doesn’t mean you have to add a big new line item to your budget, but you can’t skimp either. For all the positive energy and momentum generated by a great company retreat, a poorly planned and executed retreat can be just as detrimental.

There 10 tips will help guide you:

  1. Announce the retreat with plenty of advance notice. This notice is particularly important if some team members need to travel, arrange childcare, or coordinate pet care. Advance notice also means that you can (and should) make attendance mandatory. So, be sure to plan the company retreat for a time when all team members can attend.
  2. Select a retreat theme. As part of that theme, state the retreat’s goal at the beginning to ensure transparency and accountability. That goal could be a business-oriented objective, team building, or simply fellowship.
  3. Have a third-party facilitator run the retreat. This strategy will ensure all team members get to participate equally and eliminate any biases, perceived or actual, with employees.
  4. Declare the time spent in retreat device-free so team members are not distracted.
  5. Create a detailed agenda that includes time for breaks and meals outlined. Some employees will be anxious about being away from their desk and not checking email for an extended period of time. A clear and detailed agenda with breaks will reassure your team that they’ll have time to return emails and phone calls.
  6. Enjoy meals without content. One of the goals of a retreat is for team members to get to know each other better. Plus, participants will need downtime to re-energize and focus.
  7. Make sure break times include snacks. We all need a pick-me-up at different times during the day and a retreat is no different. Snacks should be healthy but have a bit of fun with them too.
  8. Don’t over-program the retreat and consider a purely social event as a way to ensure employees have time to get to know and enjoy each other.
  9. Conclude the retreat with a summary of the accomplishments so it ends on a high note. Don’t forget to follow up with a quick survey to hear how the team members felt about the retreat.
  10. Consider giving attendees a thank you gift for taking time away from their regular routine.
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If your company is looking for new ways to engage and energize employees while helping them work better and smarter, consider an all-company retreat. It could be just what you need.

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