Corporate Retreats – Are They Worth the Fuss?

Posted by on June 3, 2014 in Business Etiquette, Business Management [ 0 Comments ]

ID-100196301Corporate retreats have been endangered, especially after the AIG scandal in 2008, but has the time come for business travel to flourish once more? For a small to mid-sized company, the expenses of business retreats can be extensive. There’s the cost of the retreat itself – flights, venue, activities, food and drink – and then there’s the immeasurable loss of time. A day away from the office has it’s own costs in work buildup and lost leads. The advantages of providing corporate retreats are not immediately measurable, either. How do you put numbers to increased morale and a strengthened team?

Related: How to Properly Mediate an Office Dispute

The Reemergence

Corporate retreats exist for a reason. In 2012, Forbes noted it’s reemergence. We’ve had our time during the recession for bypassing the ‘extravagance’, so why do we see it’s persistence as soon as the market picks up? Simply put, it’s good to be rewarded occasionally. People are more productive the more invested they are in a company’s well being. However, today’s retreats are goal oriented where the AIG retreats were pamper oriented. When planning a retreat, consider these tips:

Focus, Focus, Focus

To accomplish any goal during a corporate retreat, focus is key. Planning ahead can pay off. First – evaluate what must be addressed during the retreat. Teamwork? Training? Network? Consider taking time to ask attendees for anonymous feedback about issues they might like to address to build on teamwork and network. For extra training try to schedule during the launch of a new product or campaign to use the time to its highest benefit. The time being spent must have direction, but not become too rigid that it’s burdensome. Know your agenda, your timetable, and address the things that most need addressing first with room to address unscheduled issues. And DOCUMENT to both stay on schedule and have a record of proceedings.

Follow this Checklist:

– Give participants break time

– Determine who will present the sessions and activities

– Don’t try to cover too much material over a short period of time

– Vary the presentations and methods

– Give participants a chance to practice newly learned skills

– Allow plenty of time for meals and sleep

– Stay focused on goals

Related: The Three R’s of Small Business HR Management

Team Building As An Opportunity For Action Plans

This is a time to get to know co workers as more than a face in a cubicle or voice on the phone. There is an extra advantage to having National or International corporate retreats since these are employees who don’t normally see each other face to face. Keith McFarland in his article for Bloomberg Businessweek suggested to mix crowds and “…try adding to this group a bunch of impatient middle managers, some of your most aggressive salespeople, a couple of board members, and your resident cynics.” Mixing crowds rather than bringing together the same groups who meet on a daily or weekly basis will result in innovative action plans. Document action plans and appoint team leaders to FOLLOW UP. In this way your retreat can have a lasting impact.

Selecting Location – What To Look For

Location is an important aspect and often the most difficult part of planning a retreat. Try to find somewhere able to accommodate both large and small groups so that multiple retreats can become uniform. It’s difficult to find a one place fits all. Brian Malley said it pretty well. “For our sales team, it was easy to please them. For the distributors, some are presidents and VPs of large companies and others are mom & pop organizations… they’re the tough critics…” (testimonial from Paws Up).

Once you find a good venue that fits everyone, plans can build off of that. I find that privacy is ideal for successful retreats. Having members scattered through a hotel is not necessarily bad, but having close-clustered private rentals can be better. If you find a place that’s unique and versatile that’s the real score – like the private Caribbean resorts at Carlisle Bay or arranging your retreat on a cruise out at sea. Other trendy venues offer more than private rentals like the Resort at Paws up where entire ‘glamping’ camps or private luxury vacation homes are available. Any location you choose should have a selection of activities and amenities. Hot air ballooning or archery will give a lasting impression. A casino… not so much.

Is A Corporate Retreat Beneficial For You?

Corporate retreats may not be for everyone. Plenty think it’s a waste of time or resources. In the end, it’s a decision entirely up to the individual company. These retreats foster growth and pay off in their own way. It’s no replacement for a positive company atmosphere and the regular office festivities, but you might be pleasantly surprised by the impact a corporate retreat has.

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