Corporate retreats tend to go one of two ways: They’re cripplingly boring and somehow even worse than just being at the office, or they get completely out of hand and don’t actually accomplish anything. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. There are some simple steps to take for planning a corporate retreat that is not only productive but also memorable.
1. Keep The Focus On The Team
An offsite can easily devolve into employees separating into their regular cliques, especially when you’re not inside the regular confines of the office. When planning activities, group people together who don’t normally interact, so encourage the ENTIRE office to work together. Sure, there might not be lifelong friendships made, but getting to know people you don’t normally work with (but ultimately have the same investment in the company) can encourage more teamwork when you’re back at the office.
Flickr user Cydcor
2. Keep The Confidentiality
If your retreat has the goal of finding ways to improve the company (as many do), things are going to have to get honest, and many employees might be nervous sharing negative ideas about the company. Make sure they feel safe giving their honest opinions, even if they’re about the boss.
3. Don’t Encourage Individual Competition
The easiest way to lose control of a team retreat is by having activities that encourage people to win for themselves. Every office has those people who are uber-competitive, and the goal of strengthening your team will get lost if one or two people are duking it out to finish an obstacle course first. Try something that makes people work together, like cooking a meal for a panel of company judges.
4. Kitschy Doesn’t Work. Ever.
There is a reason people don’t like silly team-building games. They’re silly. You’re not dealing with kids, your employees are adults – some of whom might already be cynical about the retreat. Don’t think that just because you’re away from the office, people will suddenly be up for dumb exercises. Stay away from things like trust falls and icebreakers.
5. Make Sure To Follow Up Afterwards
Team building isn’t just a one-time thing. Companies evolve and change and employees come and go, so it’s important to follow up after a company retreat to make sure that the ideas presented actually stick. Check in with your employees a few weeks after the retreat to see what they thought, and what parts they liked the most and least. Try even organizing an activity where employees get back into the same teams they were on for the retreat activities.
6. Don’t Have The Boss Pretend Like They’re Not The Boss
This always sounds fun until it’s not. Most employees always feel anxious around their bosses, even outside of work. Trying to get your employees to treat their boss like anyone else is difficult, and can turn off those employees to cooperating with activities. That’s not to say that managers or the CEO can’t participate in the retreat, but it’s probably wise to keep them away from games like “never have I ever.”
What else do you think is important about hosting a corporate retreat? Tell us in the comments below! And be sure to check out of all of Love With Food’s office snack plans!