They can be priceless team-building experiences for companies of 10 or 1,000. These retreats help colleagues to break down walls and increase interdepartmental collaboration in addition to fostering a tightly-knit sense of community. Interacting with your coworkers in a relaxed, alternate setting can spark new ideas and result in your employees heading back to work invigorated with renewed inspiration, vision, and sense of belonging.
Here is a list of things you need to know so you can reap the most benefits from your upcoming corporate retreat.
1. Set Clear Goals
What is the objective of your company’s retreat? You need to know your retreat goals before you pick a venue, hire guest presenters, or send invitations. Be prepared to analyze the experience and determine whether your goals were met.
Your goals could be:
A chance for telecommuters or those who live outside the area to reconnect
Have more effective communication between departments
Define a new strategic direction for the company
Engage in a planning process that involves all units of the company
Everyone in attendance should feel like the time spent away was worthwhile. They should feel like they’ve learned something new, gained friendships, and emerged with fresh perspectives. If those working at your company feel like the retreat was pointless, they will leave feeling like it was a waste of their time and a waste of the company’s money.
2. Give Homework
Before the retreat, have employees prepare ideas and perspectives to share. The more research and effort they put toward thoughtful contributions, the stronger the training sessions and retreat activities can be. You may even want to send out a survey before the retreat to see what ideas or suggestions attendees may have that influence retreat planning.
3. Opening and Closing Ceremonies
Have well thought out opening and closing presentations that include all attendees. The opening presentation will set the tone for the retreat and lay out a clear framework and flow for the time spent together. Your goals and objectives can be delivered at this time. Everyone will start on the same page with the same expectations. Observe and keep track of progress throughout the retreat.
Your closing presentation can include highlights from the retreat, such as pictures and videos. Attendees can reminisce about shared experiences. Summarize how things went and how the goals and objectives were met. Celebrate the goals you achieved! End by motivating everyone to increase performance and efficiency as they return to work.
4. Include Everyone
Make it possible for everyone to attend. Corporate retreats are valuable experiences for every employee. They should not be performance incentives—save incentives for bonuses and profit-sharing. Your retreat should be a level playing field for everyone involved.
If your activities involve strategic planning, you will need to have honest input from everyone involved. Key players in these conversations include those who can be antagonistic and individuals who are often too introverted to make their voice heard.
The best strategic planning takes place when multiple ideas and perspectives are shared. Have participants fill out questionnaires or brainstorm in written form so all ideas can be fully expressed.
5. Make Some Activities Optional
Some key activities will need to be mandatory, such as a brainstorming/planning event or a get-to-know-you type of reception, but some of the activities should be optional. Not everyone will feel comfortable with a hike or a ropes course. When these activities are scheduled, you should have a couple of different options for people to choose from or allow them to opt out entirely.
In the same vein, remember to include down-time. Having every moment of every day scheduled will lead to dissatisfaction. Your attendees will need a bit of time off to rest and even do some sightseeing during free time. Be sure to schedule downtime and firmly enforce it—don’t allow meetings to spill over into your free periods.
6. Make It Fun
Yes, there will be planning meetings, training, and skills development, but retreats should be fun for everyone involved. The experience should offer a break from day to day life at the office, with interesting activities offered to encourage enthusiastic involvement.
Time set aside for unstructured social activities is often when the best relationships are formed and deepened. For many, their favorite aspect of work is who they work with and the camaraderie that exists in those relationships. A well-planned corporate retreat should have a balance of work and fun. Make time for activities like these:
Attend a sporting event
Mingle at cocktail receptions and happy hours
Go on a hike
Visit a cultural hotspot like a museum or a public park
7. Have a Follow-Up Meeting
Schedule a time when those involved in organizing the retreat can analyze how it went. Evaluate what was successful about the retreat, and how you would like to do things differently with the next one.
Find out what the attendees thought of the retreat. You can have them fill out a survey before leaving, or send a company-wide email with a survey after they return to work. Either way, the feedback will provide valuable information that should be included in your follow-up meeting.
To help guide your meeting and make sure it is productive, these questions should be answered in the follow-up:
Were our goals met?
What were the highlights?
What was the most successful aspect of the retreat?
What did not go as planned?
What could we have done differently to make it more successful?
A little change of scenery is often just what a business needs to invigorate productivity and company culture. Having clear goals and objectives, offering training and planning sessions where all can be heard, and giving employees an appropriate mix of relaxed activities just for fun are all important factors that work together to create an effective and memorable corporate retreat.
Work with CMOE to Plan Your Next Corporate Retreat
CMOE is an industry-leading value creation partner. Our experience means we know how to plan and carry out effective, game-changing corporate retreats. Learn more about our retreat services.
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.
Get Exclusive Content Delivered Straight to Your Inbox
When you subscribe to our blog and become a CMOE Insider.