Although company retreat planning tends to be more complicated and expensive than other types of corporate events, it's well worth the effort. A company retreat is the perfect opportunity to reinforce your organization's culture, boosting teamwork, morale, and productivity in the process. Not only that, a simple change of scenery might be just what your people need to ignite the spark of creativity and innovation.
A successful retreat doesn't happen overnight, though. There's a lot of work that goes into executing a successful retreat, and many different ways things can go wrong. Don't let that intimidate you, though — as long as you approach the event planning process strategically and with an understanding of what you're looking to accomplish, you should be just fine.
With that in mind, let's go over a few company retreat planning tips, then we'll wrap up with a few activity and event ideas to help you get things rolling.
Understanding the Importance of Corporate Retreats
Team-building is arguably one of the most common reasons for hosting a corporate retreat, just above improving productivity. Those are both excellent goals, but they're far from the only reasons one might opt to host a retreat. Aside from better workplace collaboration and communication, the benefits of company retreats include:
Personal and professional development for employees.
Giving people a chance to relax and recharge, thereby allowing them to approach workplace challenges with renewed energy.
Identifying strategies and skills which might help your business better achieve its core objective.
Celebrating employee achievements and accomplishments.
Revamping or reinforcing corporate culture.
Planning a Corporate Retreat
Identify Objectives and Goals
Much as with planning a corporate workshop, the best way to plan a company retreat is to start by defining a clear objective. What do you want your business and its employees to have achieved by the end of your retreat, and what do you need in order to fulfill that goal? You'll also want to define:
Your target audience. Is your retreat for one specific department, or is it a more general event?
Key performance indicators.
Deliverables and soft outcomes.
What you'll need in order to get buy-in from key stakeholders.
Who you'll need on your team to run the retreat.
Your budget, and how that budget connects with your retreat's ROI.
Define Your Corporate Event Personality
Next, you might find it helpful to establish a baseline for the tone and direction of your retreat — its personality, in other words. This not only helps you align your retreat with your primary business objective, but also ensures that it resonates with attendees. You have a few options, depending on the goals you defined in the previous step:
For strategic planning and brainstorming, choose the Visionary.
For creative long-term solutions to business challenges, choose the Innovator.
To show appreciation and care for your employees, choose the Wellness Seeker.
If you want to improve workplace collaboration and communication, choose the Team Builder.
In order to develop knowledge and/or practical skills, choose the Educator.
Craft a Thoughtful Company Retreat Agenda
Next up, it's time to brainstorm content and activities, then build those out into a complete agenda. How will your retreat achieve its goals? What activities would be best-suited for the retreat's people and purpose, and what sort of content and equipment will those require?
Work with your primary stakeholders to build out an agenda — you can then update and refine it as you get closer to the date of the event.
Select the Ideal Company Retreat Location
Once you've figured out what you want to do for your company retreat, your next step is to figure out where you want to host it. Make sure you choose an adequately sized venue with all the necessary equipment and accommodations to support any activities you want to run. If you're hosting your retreat in a city or location far from your primary workplace, you'll also need to make sure everyone has a place to stay.
Evaluate and Follow Up
Once you've hosted your retreat, it's time to determine how well it achieved its goals. What did your event do well? Were there any areas where your event needed improvement?
You'll want to collect insights from:
Guests and facilitators.
Analytics tools, if relevant.
Deliverables, if relevant.
Measure your overall ROI, reach out to thank everyone for attending, then use your remaining momentum to consider how you can make your next retreat even better.
Corporate Retreat Ideas to Get You Started
If you want a more comprehensive breakdown of event planning for corporate retreats, feel free to check out our Essential Checklist for Planning a Corporate Workshop. Otherwise, let's go over a few activities you can potentially feature at your retreat.
Although they're commonly associated with video hosting platforms like Zoom, breakout rooms work just as well in a physical venue. The basic concept behind them is relatively simple. Attendees separate into several evenly-sized groups, then each group works together towards a specific goal.
This could be anything from defining a product roadmap to coming up with a solution to a business problem.
Retreats can be a great opportunity for people to better explore and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Personality assessments can be part of that process. Using a testing tool like Meyers-Briggs, attendees can gain a better understanding of who they are as people, building a personal profile that allows them to explore everything from their work habits to their communication style.
High Ropes Courses
Not every corporate retreat activity needs to be entirely cerebral. Sometimes, inspiration and motivation is as simple as getting the blood pumping. That's where high ropes courses come in.
These midair obstacle courses task team members with working their way across a series of platforms, bridges, ropes and swings. They're not only exciting, but also help team members learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another. Many venues will even tailor their course to your organization's own challenges and objectives.
The survival game is a thought exercise based on a simple premise — whether as the result of a plane crash, a shipwreck, or another catastrophic accident, your team is stranded somewhere dangerous. They have enough time and space to make it to safety with only a few survival items.
Each team's task is to identify those items, then work together to determine how they can survive.
Sometimes, team-building is as simple as having a meal together. That's the basic idea behind a breakfast retreat, which is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than focus on any sort of structured activity or task, everyone simply goes out to breakfast — or lunch, brunch, or dinner, if you'd prefer.
Escape rooms have in recent years become one of the most popular group problem-solving activities around. They're also perfect for team building. For the uninitiated, an escape room locks a group of people in a room then tasks them with a race against the clock — they need to look for clues, solve puzzles, and work together to find and unlock the exit before time runs out.
Human Spring is a permutation of another incredibly common team-building exercise, the trust fall. Start by dividing your people into groups of two, then have each pair stand a full arm's-width apart and lean into each other by pressing their palms together. Then, have them start stepping back until they've hit their limit.
Finally, when a team reaches its limit, ask them to explain why they feel they cannot keep going.
Let's face it, nature is inspiring. It's helped countless artists and thinkers throughout history come up with new ideas and solutions. And it may be able to help your employees, as well.
Encourage everyone to enjoy getting back to nature — you might even take things a step further and turn a walk or hike into a full camping trip.
If your people trust that you'll listen, they'll gladly tell you what's on their mind. That's the idea behind the feedback session. It's an opportunity for each employee to voice their thoughts, ideas and grievances without fear of judgment or reprisal.
A trivia night can take plenty of different forms, from an outing to a neighborhood bar to a more industry-specific competitive quiz. EIther way, it allows you to test both the knowledge and cohesion of your people. That makes it incredibly valuable.
There's not a great deal to say about this activity — sporting events have been part and parcel of team building for decades now. Whether getting everyone together for a game of baseball or hosting a competitive rowing event, this activity can be a great way to both promote wellness and improve collaboration. Just make sure you plan around any physical limitations or impairments that may be present amongst your employees.
Want to promote collaboration, communication, and cooperation? How about a game of Dungeons & Dragons? You might be surprised at how well being part of a fantasy adventuring party teaches people to work together, building on one another's strengths and accounting for one another's weaknesses. And running such a game can provide invaluable management, leadership, and conflict resolution experience.
Take Your Event from Perfect to Purple
Company retreats are an excellent way to not only promote teamwork, but also solve problems, improve engagement, and motivate your people. With the right planning, venue, and activities, they can help your business reach new heights. And we can help — reach out to us today, and we'll show you what it means to take your corporate retreat from Perfect to Purple.