Company Retreat

A trip away with your team should not be planned with haste. You want it to be meaningful and motivational. So before you print those “Company Retreat” fliers for mass distribution around the office, read on and maybe reconsider what you’re actually offering.

Why Plan a Retreat?

Maybe it’s an entire brand experience you seek to create for your employees to better align themselves with your company mottoes, missions, and goals. Getting everyone together – and away – is an excellent way to promote understanding of your business. Perhaps your purpose is to improve team dynamics. You envision an event that will build trust and mutual respect among employees in an out of office environment.

A company retreat is a fantastic opportunity to hone in on specific problems and generate creative solutions as a group. If this is your intention, bear in mind that solving morale issues should not be the aim. A retreat cannot solve something negative. It can add to the positives or reinforce what’s already present. Another reason for a retreat is to make announcements about changes of direction or policy or about bonuses and incentives.

The retreat itself is already a perk of the job and should be orchestrated with a work-play balance. Inciting honest conversations and interactions is key, but you shouldn’t replicate the office. You want fun and recreation within a professional realm.

How to Start Planning

Before you start looking for venues and caterers, determine your budget. You never know what last-minute costs may take you by surprise, so allocate some “extra” funds to miscellaneous items that might arise during the retreat.

Don’t forget to invite decision makers and stakeholders. Invite staff well ahead of time to give them ample time to R.S.V.P and organize accordingly. This is also a good time to find out about special dietary requirements that should be catered for.

Plan

Keep it simple. A retreat should clarify, not complicate, things. The more elaborate the retreat, the more you should delegate “pre-retreat homework.” Encourage team members to get involved with aspects of the pre-planning.

Employees will want to snap photos and preserve memories at the retreat. Consider hiring a photographer instead. Mobile camera phones can be a distraction even if they say they’re “just taking pictures” during a presentation, for example.

Here are four kinds of retreats and their importance:

Giving Back Retreat

Volunteering gives a boost to morale and company culture. Giving a hand and helping out is impactful and meaningful for any business team. Planning a retreat doesn’t require traveling great distances. Getting away can be as simple as getting out in the community.

Volunteers

It might seem natural to seek an experience relative to your industry, but it’s not the rule. Weigh your options. Just because you’re a software company doesn’t mean you can’t help the homeless. Ask around the office for ideas. The best ones might very well come from your employees.

Junior Achievement (JA) is an exciting way for your team to make a difference with students. Volunteers teach fun, interactive business lessons to kids about commerce and education for their future success. BizTown is a mini-city that simulates the “real world” of business. Students become “citizens” with jobs and paychecks and health care. Your team can participate as supervisors in 6 hour commitment slots.

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Networking Retreat

If you want to expose your team to new ideas and new people, attend a conference or business event together. Conferences either teach you something new or advance your skills in various areas. Above all, there will be plenty of chances to make valuable business connections.

Conferences get pricey. Book wisely and bear in mind that as conferences get closer, prices often drop to entice last-minute attendees to sign up. While it is not a guarantee and it is not practical for larger teams, it can save you quite a bit when it works. Stay tuned with events you’re interested in on social media like group discounts or free tickets.

Luxury Retreat

Book rooms at an all-inclusive resort. Decadence and pampering can really take appreciation to the next level. Search for accommodations that offer ample meeting space for the size of your group. “Seating for 50 can be very different than space for 50 people to be moving around,” says Leah Preston, event marketing coordinator of staySky resorts. Cross-check the facts you find online with an on-site coordinator to get realistic expectations.

Luxury

These days you can get a whole lot from one venue. Phoenix’s Arizona Grand Resort is a shining example with over 120,000 sq. feet designated to convention space. There are also possibilities for hosting team functions at their golf course, water park or nationally acclaimed spa and fitness center. Wellness is always a “hot” water cooler topic.

Active Retreat

Getting in touch with nature facilitates bonding. There are infinite alternatives to the traditional campfire gathering. If you want “a wildly civilized glamping” experience go to Chaa Creek Resort where you can swim with whale sharks, tour Mayan culture and have group gatherings in the generous conference center for up to 100 people.

Add a little adventure to your itinerary. Bungee jumping, rock climbing, river rafting, and scavenger hunts are adrenaline filled options. Friendly competition and physical challenges are healthy for everyone.

Company culture is the pulse of your business. Experience outweighs material things with the employees of today. So get out there and plan a retreat.

How Do You Organize a Company Retreat?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Courtney Capellan
Courtney Capellan is a digital analyst for Hotel Marketing Works and a technically creative writer. Her background is in hospitality, management and sales. She has a B.A. from the University of Washington in foreign policy and diplomacy and she's travelled the world extensively for her education and pleasure alike. Based in San Diego, California, Courtney loves a good book at the beach, golf and practicing yoga.

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