Corporate retreats are an excellent way to build relationships and morale among your team. They provide a reprieve from the monotony of daily work, giving attendees a chance to refocus and refuel. However, to achieve their maximum effectiveness these retreats must be done well. So how do you pull off an excellent, efficient retreat?
Know Your Purpose
Intentionality is a key component of productivity. You can’t expect an efficient gathering if you have no clear purpose. This being the case, the first step of a successful retreat is determining your end goal. There are many options: discussing and reaching conclusions about specific matters, improving communication, boosting morale, increasing teamwork, or encouraging creative thinking. Whatever your goal, it should be established and communicated in the preliminary planning stages. Furthermore, every aspect of your event should serve that goal.
Make the Venue Serve the Event
Planning your event around your venue is far less productive than planning your venue around your event. If you want your retreat to accomplish your goal you’ll need a venue that aids your efforts. If you plan teambuilding activities and games, for example, you’ll want to ensure that your venue meets your space requirements.
Choose a Memorable Location/Venue
Corporate retreats are an opportunity to give attendees a unique and memorable experience. Sometimes employees view retreats as an unfortunate distraction, taking them away from their work and family. You can combat this feeling by giving people a time that is both fruitful and enjoyable. While ‘work hard, play hard’ might sound cliché, it’s still an ideal worth pursuing. It won’t look the same for every group, however—know your team. An authentic camping experience might work wonders for one group, but not others. Likewise, a getaway to sunny Puerto Rico may appeal to a team from chilly Minnesota more so than a group from Los Angeles.
Retreats are the perfect time to encourage conversation. It is usually better to talk with people instead of to them. Participation is crucial, as it shows you care about attendees’ questions and ideas. People participating are also more engaged. Sure, you may need the occasional monologue or presentation, but the more relaxed retreat setting is ideal for brainstorming and dialogue.
Balance Business with Pleasure
One of the hardest parts about planning a retreat is finding the perfect balance between work and pleasure. It is helpful for a retreat to have both, after all. There is work to be done, of course, but adding some fun and relaxation can help attendees be more productive. Increased employee morale will improve their efforts when it comes time to work. Furthermore, attendees sharing recreation time can grow more comfortable with each other, improving overall teamwork and communication.
The recreational side of retreats require you to think about safety concerns. You’ll need to get health approvals, and you’ll want to ensure that any dietary restrictions or allergies are factored in. Some companies opt for more extreme retreats, like white water rafting, but these require a lot of extra precautions and may scare off some of your attendees. It’s good to have a good time, but be sure that you’re taking the necessary steps to keep people safe.
Use Your Time Wisely
While it’s helpful for attendees to have recreation time, you also have things to accomplish, and all within the limited time of your retreat. Preemptive planning should help create an agenda you follow closely, but make sure you can realistically cover your agenda items with the time you have. It’s important that attendees have time to relax and enjoy themselves, but it shouldn’t interfere with the work that needs to be done. A midday cocktail hour or massage, for example, might make people too relaxed for the brainstorming session they have to attend in half an hour.
Determine Next Steps
Like any worthwhile meeting, a good retreat should feature a plan for what comes next. What are the next steps, the ways to execute any ideas created during your time together? If you don’t make an action plan, and if you fail to follow up after your event, many of your ideas will die on the vine. If you want to keep the momentum going, you need to think ahead.
Corporate retreats are a great opportunity, a chance that shouldn’t be wasted. When done well, retreats have unique benefits to your team and your company. Implement these seven tips and you’ll find your retreats succeeding like never before.
Planning an upcoming executive retreat or corporate team building program? Contact Gavel International for both meeting planning and travel programs.