Company retreats have gotten a reputation for being an extravagant perk that only large businesses can afford. Even small businesses can—and should—host company retreats for their staff. The team bonding that occurs when your company interacts outside of office doors is invaluable in building strong teams, and in turn, a strong company. While we agree that taking an entire team away to a tropical island isn’t in most of our budgets, there are ways to host a company excursion that won’t hurt your bottom line. Continue reading for 5 company retreat ideas that you can get started on planning for your team today.
What is a Company Retreat?
The phrase “company retreat” is something that everyone understands but few can sharply define. Simply, it’s an event that your entire company attends that is out of the office and not focused on work—at least not entirely.
Sometimes retreats are used to refine things like a company’s mission or vision, but the main point is to give your employees an opportunity to bond with each other in a largely non-work setting that’s still professional in nature (company retreats aren’t just a team happy hour). As Fast Company puts it, “corporate retreats have been identified as a critical element to developing bonds, breaking through stuck team dynamics, and hitting the refresh button.” The outcomes you’re looking for post-retreat are pretty simple: better-bonded teams and a boost in company morale.
While retreats can be multi-day events, it’s absolutely possible to host a single day retreat that spans the length of the day but is located close enough to the office that everyone can go home at the end of the day. There’s no need to shell out tons of cash to rake in the benefits of a retreat—a day-long investment is all you need to demonstrate your prioritizing your company’s culture.
Company Retreat Ideas
Ok, ok. You’re sold on the importance of a retreat—but what about the logistics? How often should they happen and how do you know it’s the right time? There’s no right or wrong answer. Some businesses host annual retreats while others choose to align them with critical moments like a merger or after a setback like a round of layoffs. By acting on these critical moments, you will be able to keep employees happier during tough times. The same goes for where to host your retreat. To get your brainstorming juices flowing, here are a few ideas ideal for small businesses on a budget:
- Head to a farm. Taking your team out to a no-frills environment is a unique way to get your team collaborating. Just think; when you remove offices, titles and role descriptions, everyone in a simple environment gets to see one another completely freed of hierarchy and pecking orders.
- Go camping. With the right equipment and weather conditions, camping can be a great opportunity for teams to learn to work together in different ways. Hiking, building campfires and perhaps even swimming allow peers from all different teams to intermingle. Plus, heading outdoors and pitching tents is super budget friendly.
- Take advantage of a conference. If there’s a major conference that the majority of your company is attending, tack your retreat onto that to save on travel costs.
- Go talent-sourcing. One surefire way to keep things low budget is to source hobbies and activities that your employees engage in outside of work. For instance, does your team have a yogi or meditation specialist? Is there an expert knitter on the sales team? Lean into your internal resources and enable them to lead a training or lesson on their interest. Doing so not only upleves them and their hobbies, it demonstrates that you as the employer, prioritize hobbies and skills that don’t necessarily connect with their desk job. You might be surprised how much you can learn from one another!
- Stay local. You can still get away without actually leaving your city. Consider hosting your retreat at a local hotel that has a killer pool and some great restaurants—it’ll feel like just as much of a treat as heading out of town.
Don’t Forget Team Building Activities
When it comes to putting on a successful company retreat, planning is key. As Help Scout explains, it’s “critical to plan for the right mix of business, activities and free time. While talking shop is certainly a priority, the goal of retreats is to relax and connect in real time.” Moreover, when you manage remote teams, hosting an opportunity for folks to get together fosters real-life connectivity for those who are typically dialing in. When it comes to managing remote teams, it’s key to help make these members of your team feel integrated and part of the group. Remember, the goal here is to create an experience that gets people excited, not one that causes dread!