Do you have a corporate retreat coming up?
They can be priceless team-building experiences for companies of 10 or 1,000. These retreats help colleagues to break down walls and increase inter-departmental collaboration in addition to fostering a tightly-knit sense of community. Interacting with your co workers 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? 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 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 attending the retreat, have employees come prepared with ideas and perspectives to share. The more research and effort put toward thoughtful contributions, the stronger the benefit will be from training and planning activities where input is needed. Consider sending out a survey before the retreat to see what ideas or suggestions attendees may have that can contribute to the discussion before it even starts.
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 delivered at this time. Everyone will start on the same page with the same expectations. Observe and keep track of progress through the duration of the retreat.
Your closing presentation can include highlights from the retreat including pictures and videos. Attendees can reminisce about shared experiences. Summarize how things went, and how the goals and objectives were met. Celebrate when goals are 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 include those who can be antagonistic and individuals who are often too introverted to make their voice heard.
The best 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. You could have a couple of different options for people to choose from or to opt out entirely.
Very closely related to this topic is 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 pencil in the down time.
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 made and deepened. For many, their favorite aspect of work is who they work with and the atmosphere 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
- Cocktail receptions and happy hours
- Free time
7. Have a Follow-Up Meeting
Schedule a time when those involved 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, training and planning where all can be heard, and an appropriate mix of relaxed activities just for fun, are all important factors that work together to create an effective and memorable corporate retreat.