Considering a Company Retreat: Here’s How To Plan Your Best Retreat Yet

Company Retreat
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The average demands of a 40-hour work week are more than enough to tire anyone out. A few demanding weeks in a row can result in a breaking point. This can manifest itself in all shapes and sizes but suffice to say, there is generally a negative outcome at the end of this tunnel. Of course, the weekend serves to help people decompress from the office. But in some cases, work clings to the employees and they can never take a break. This is especially true in a world dominated by work-from-home opportunities. The physical act of leaving work has disappeared. Due to this, people find their work life and personal life overlap now more than ever. In the past, some companies have found removing work elements entirely by way of a retreat has been the spark needed to close a quarter strong. Francois Nars, a world-famous cosmetician, backed this up, “It’s very refreshing to go away and take a break, to clear your head, and just get into something else.”

If a retreat sounds like an activity that could benefit your employees, look at these tips for making your next company retreat the best one yet.

Remember the Calendar

Each season of weather allows for certain activities, especially when geographical location is factored in. For example, you probably do not want to visit the beach in December if you live on the East Coast. Inversely, a skiing trip in the summer does not make much sense. Scott Annan, CEO of Mycube Safe spoke to this, “When it comes to company retreats, the weather can be your best friend or biggest enemy, depending on how you plan to spend your time.”

There are no enforceable rules to how you must plan out a company retreat. You and your team get to make it whatever you want it to be. This is why you should take care to plan your activities alongside the expected weather. The last thing any employee wants on their corporate retreat is physical misery brought on by the weather.

Consider the Budget

Natalia Morozova, Partner of Cohen, Tucker & Ades P.C. offered advice to retreat planners, “The outcome of a retreat will never be defined by the amount of money behind it. Obviously, it can help. But ask yourself, what can you afford to spend? The truthful answer to this question is what you should spend on a retreat.”

Often, the people in charge of putting together the company retreat want the weekend to be above and beyond amazing. Whether it is extravagant housing or a once-in-a-lifetime adventure opportunity, there is no shortage of creative ideas that could have a lasting impact on a workforce. A company retreat may be an excuse for a no holds bar spending spree as these types of activities will cause a financial dent. To top all this off, there is no guarantee these activities will unite a team in the way you want. Long story short, spending too much on a company retreat may be more like a trip to the casino than anything else, for more than one reason.

What Do You Want to Accomplish?

Companies that go into their retreats without so much as a sketched-out idea of a plan may as well be holding a giveaway for their employees to win a free vacation. If you’re hosting a retreat, you hold the power to make it memorable. Yuvraj Tuli, Founder of Compound Banc pushed others to think similarly, “There is great power in a well-planned retreat. No matter your goals, if you have put ample thought and time into creating a retreat with intention, you can get anything done.”

Let’s say a company wants to make some sweeping changes to the way its sales team operates. Their leadership team decides to take the sales team away for a weekend of both education and relaxation to make the transition easier. They plan the logistics of the weekend but forget to include when, where and how exactly the education portion of the weekend will take place. Upon arrival at the destination, every member of the team heads in their separate direction with relaxation on their mind. The intention of the weekend is lost. The moral of this example should be apparent – a retreat is a great idea, but only if you follow through entirely.

Company Retreat
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Gauge Interest Levels

As a leader, you have surely come to realize that even though two employees may fulfill similar duties, they are in no way similar people. Their unique attributes and interests are what make the working world such a fascinating place to experience. But, in the case of company retreats, these can make the planning process a little hairy. Some people enjoy kicking back and watching a football game while others would rather go spend their time rock climbing.

There is no right or wrong way to plan a retreat. But there is a considerate and inclusive way to do so. Michael Burghoffer, CEO of PicoSolutions talked about this, “When someone is coordinating a company retreat, one of the first things they should get to the bottom of is what the team is interested in. There is no point in spending time and money on activities or trips that will leave your employees disinterested.”

How Are You Getting There?

Companies of all shapes and sizes have come to understand the destination retreat is the one their employees look forward to and remember. After all, days on end in the same workspace causes memories to blur together into an indeterminable mass. This result may be the most influential argument for getting employees out of their regular working environment. However, to do this, the physical act of travel must happen. As the world has seen in recent years, there is no guarantee to anything travel related. But that shouldn’t hinder a company retreat. Ryan Azimi, Director of International Development of ETIAS stated why, “I’ve heard enough travel nightmare stories to know that the travel plans of a company retreat must be bulletproof and simple, simultaneously. Not only do you have to consider all the factors of travel, but you must also act as a people herder which is no small task.”

Not Too Much, Not Too Little

The amount of time a company should set aside for a retreat can be a tricky thing to gauge. On one hand, an afternoon off work, focused on a community activity may leave some positive residual feelings amongst team members but in what way did this event elevate the potential of the company or employees professionally speaking? On the other hand, a weeklong trip to any location could create more animosity than any member of the team thought possible. Imagine all this as a tightrope that must be walked to properly gain the benefits of a company retreat.

Making this happen might seem daunting, but the good news is Zachary Hamed, CEO of Clay has a helpful opinion, “With company retreats, you want your employees to be together long enough to find comfort but short enough that they don’t find annoyances. Different types of people will call for different lengths of time, but a sound general rule of thumb is no more than three nights.”

Where Are You Staying?

To the individual or group responsible for designing a corporate retreat, the best course of action might appear to be to rent out a block of hotel rooms at a discount and call this aspect of planning a wrap. Inherently, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach. In fact, as it pertains to the budget, it might be wise. But every hotel room is about the same as the last and people feel this in their bones the second they insert their card into the door. To some, this may not seem like a big deal, but it can do more than enough to disrupt a retreat. Christy Pyrz, Chief Marketing Officer of Paradigm Peptides believes as much, “A trip that is pitched as a company retreat but feels more like a working weekend can kill morale. To avoid starting things off on the wrong foot, don’t put your employees up in a cookie-cutter hotel. The extra money spent to hold your employee’s attention is worth it.”

Is it Practical?

For many companies, the changing of the pages on the calendar often indicates when it might be most appropriate for their team to schedule their retreat. Think about it like this – in the middle of winter in a northern state, there will be very little interest in swimsuits. But come summer this will surely change. For this company, going away from the office makes the most sense when business is slow. Dan Gray, General Manager of Kotn Supply supported this line of thinking, “A company that chooses to go on their retreat on a whim is one that is doomed to fail. Business behavior shows a lack of awareness for when your business takes place and when you need to be available.”

Involve Every Department

Stephen Skeel, Co-Founder and Executive Producer of 7 Wonders Cinema highlighted a key effort every company retreat should include, “The nature of a workday relegates certain people to opposite ends of the office. Or it can cause them to spend far too much time together. Company retreats can serve to break up these routines, but only if you include everyone and push them to do things outside their departments.”

A retreat that only includes the marketing team does a fantastic job of alienating the rest of the staff. Not only are the outsiders miffed they did not receive the opportunity to get away, they also do not have the chance to connect with their coworkers. Though this issue is easily remedied, many companies persist in making it appear for themselves. Don’t be like them and let your company become a transactional workplace.

There Is No Such Thing as Too Early

Spontaneous plans may be a ton of fun as a teenager but when you’re running a company, they become like throwing a wrench in the business process. There is a tedious method behind the success of every company and slight disruptions of this could have negative rippling effects. Company retreats could have the opposite effect, if they were implemented correctly, Christian Kjaer, CEO of ElleVet Sciences summarized how to do this, “Rushing through the planning process will only leave you with a headache after the fact. Travel considerations aside, keeping your company operational and profitable while people are away is difficult, to say the least. To make it happen, you’ll need to plan for a retreat far in advance.”

A company retreat can be a wonderful experience on various levels if you take the time to plan it out. Author Alan Cohen offered his thoughts on why doing so is important, “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”