Hearing the words ‘company retreat’ probably makes you think trust falls, matching t-shirts, and downing more alcohol in front of your boss than is appropriate. Well, we’re happy to announce that company retreats are no longer the corporate-style, hangover-ridden off-sites that they used to be. In fact, not only are retreats making a comeback in the startup world in a major way. When executed correctly, they can boost morale, encourage bonding, establish shared goals, and help uncover hidden talent within the team - whether there’s 5 or 500 people in your company. So before you finalise your budgets for the year, consider using some of those company funds to take your team to the next level!
This may seem a bit redundant, but the entire point of a retreat is for employees to interact with one another in an environment that vastly differs from the office. This allows them to form more social relationships and revitalise their regard for fellow colleagues. Put hierarchy, working relationships, and procedures aside, and solely focus on the activities planned during the retreat. This way, everyone can feel comfortable opening up, and grow by breaking down traditional communication channels.
Before you tackle the logistics of a company retreat, the first thing you need to determine is a theme: is it to encourage cross-pollination, or boost morale, or celebrate hitting an important company milestone? The key is to be as specific as possible in your intended goals, and communicate them to the rest of the team early on. With everyone on the same team, you can expect certain efforts to be made when going through the agenda.
While some companies have minute-to-minute rundowns on the retreat itinerary, others like to surprise their employees once they arrive at the location. The agenda should be consistent to the nature of the theme; for instance, a retreat that’s focused on real training should outline a clear schedule, but a more celebratory one can be more relaxed. If you’d like it to be somewhere in the middle, we suggest passing around a survey a couple of weeks before, and have employees vote on their activities of choice. Happy peeps, have life?
When establishing your budget for the retreat, keep in mind that aside from the costs needed for the menu, catering, materials, etc., there’s also the time required to organise the logistics of the event, which takes away from business as usual. This brings up the issue of whether or not you want to bring in a moderator to lead the event or do so internally. There are pros and cons to each, but we suggest that even if your choice is the former, be involved so that the retreat is inline with your company culture and objectives.
Welcome back to Mandy's In-House Notes, a twice-monthly column touching on all things brand-building, entrepreneurship and female-empowerment related, from the mind of Mandy Pao.
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