Why a company retreat is a good idea for your business

A quick summary:

  • Why company retreats are a good idea 🏝
  • How to make the most of company retreats 🌅
  • Planning a company retreat for your team
  • Your much needed company retreat checklist ✍️

Company retreats have come a long way since the days of ‘business as usual’ disguised as mandatory fun. Employees often worked long hours, with little time for relaxation or enjoyment.  Nowadays, companies realise the importance of employee wellbeing.

Workdays spent in hotel business suites have replaced morning yoga, team-building, mindfulness sessions, and opportunities to relax and rejuvenate.

It can be challenging to justify the costs and time spent planning offsite meetings when so many other things must be accomplished.

Investing in a company retreat is an investment in your employees. Taking care of their wellbeing and providing them with opportunities to bond as a team shows your concern for them. 

A retreat doesn't have to be extravagant or expensive. There are plenty of ways to make it work within your budget.

When done right, a company retreat is an unforgettable experience for everyone involved. It's a chance to create lasting memories, build stronger relationships and come away feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Why company retreats are a good idea

Retreats offer organisations a chance to reboot. They’re a way to take stock of where the company has been and is going. They’re opportunities for leaders to instil new values or revisit old ones.

Remote work has its perks—no commute, a more relaxed dress code, the ability to take breaks whenever you want—but it comes with several challenges. One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to maintain a strong team dynamic when everyone is spread out. Two-thirds of corporate travellers think it's challenging to build professional connections virtually compared to face-to-face. 

When done right, team-building retreats can be a powerful tool for building trust, developing new skills and fostering creativity. In a world where virtual engagement is becoming the norm, these face-to-face interactions are more important than ever.

You can use your company retreat for ‘all hands on deck’ meetings, such as presenting goal trees to organise and understand what needs to happen within the company to succeed, or outline necessary changes.

And as your company scales, retreats become critical for solidifying and retaining your company culture and values. Retreats are essential to keeping your team connected, engaged, and productive in a hybrid world. 

When so many companies grapple with the challenges of a hybrid workforce, the importance of team-building retreats has become a sharp focus. There is no substitute for bonding and camaraderie when a team is brought together in a company retreat.

How to make the most out of a company retreat

A successful retreat requires the participation of the entire team in planning. By doing this, everyone participates in the planning process.

Zinc.work ensures everyone’s voices are heard to find out what people want from a retreat 

Buffer, the social media scheduling tool, uses its slack channel to inform all team members about the retreat and drum up excitement.

Buffer uses Slack to discuss company retreats

Business life leaves little time for focusing on higher-level goals. Team retreats enable each department to focus on the company vision and visualise their role in helping that vision to be realised or improved.

How to plan a successful company retreat

The first step to a successful retreat is to decide what objectives you want to achieve. Identify your objectives and plan activities accordingly.

Activities don’t have to be serious all the time. Some of the best team-building exercises are lighthearted and fun.

Consider scheduling time for each team to present their ideas for the upcoming year if you want to focus on strategy. If team building is your goal, consider organising some group activities or outings.

Company retreats are essential for team bonding and morale; a study by Airbnb found even thinking about upcoming travel can increase happiness and hopefulness by 18 and 9%, respectively, but it can be a significant expense if a budget is not set.

Estimating the costs of activities, meals, and accommodations with a 20% cushion to allow for unexpected expenses is best. Another option is to set a per-person budget if you have a wide range of employees with different needs. For example, you may want to allocate £500 per person for food and lodging and £100 per person for activities.

It's essential to be realistic about what your company can afford. Being mindful of your budget ensures your company retreat is both enjoyable and affordable.

Decide the type of retreat you’d like to run. Do you want a shorter trip focused on team bonding activities? Or would a larger villa with beautiful countryside work better for your team? Once you’ve decided on the type of retreat, the next step is to choose a location. Is it going to be in the same country or abroad?

Consider creating a presentation/video/handout outlining the retreat's objectives and aligning everyone’s expectations. 

When planning a company retreat, have a loose plan of activities. We usually work in the mornings and have group sessions in the afternoon. This allows everyone to relax and enjoy the surroundings. It's an opportunity to set OKRs and define company values. 

Zapier often uses their company retreats as a chance to run ‘hackathon-style events where teams of employees work together on creative projects. This builds teamwork skills and allows employees to tap into their creativity and develop new ideas.

Focusing on achieving the company goals aligns each team member to ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives.

Improving your company retreat

While it’s a nice employee perk to offer a company retreat, focus on continually evaluating the purpose and goals of the retreat to ensure it’s an effective use of company time and resources.

After a company retreat, take time to process what happened and gather employee feedback. Feedback is a critical aspect of any company retreat. It allows you to identify what went well and what could be improved. Feedback should be collected from all attendees, not just the organisers. This provides a well-rounded perspective of the retreat.

One way to do this is to hold a debriefing session where employees share their thoughts and feelings about the retreat. This is a good time to solicit feedback about what could be improved for future retreats.

Once collected, feedback should be compiled and shared with the entire team.  This way, everyone is aware of the successes and failures of the retreat and how to improve it.

Company retreat checklist

Use this handy checklist to keep on track with the planning and preparation for your company retreat.

Planning

  1.  Create a budget
  2. Choose a date and location for the retreat
  3. Check the availability of your chosen venue
  4. Confirm travel arrangements (consider group bookings for flights that include luggage)
  5. Don't forget to check business travel insurance
  6. Make sure visas are up to date (if necessary)
  7. Outline the objectives for the retreat
  8. Plan activities and structure for the week

Before you go

  1. Prepare materials needed for group sessions
  2. Pack your bags!
  3. Reconfirm travel arrangements and have regular contact with the venue you’re staying at
  4. Create a dedicated Slack channel and build buzz!
  5. Create a deck to present to the team with helpful info and tips

While you're there

  1. Make sure everyone arrives safely
  2. Check-in with the team regularly
  3. Capture key ideas and action items from group sessions
  4. Encourage team bonding activities
  5. Have fun and enjoy the bonding experience with your team

When you're back

  1. Thank the team for their hard work
  2. Follow up on action items from the retreat
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of the retreat against its objectives.

On that note

The annual company retreat is a time-honoured tradition in the business world. For many organisations, it’s an opportunity to unplug from the day-to-day grind and focus on long-term planning. But with so many moving parts, planning a company retreat can be daunting. 

Remember, a company retreat is an investment in your team's morale and productivity, so make the most of it!

Credit: Charlotte Hall co-founded Zinc.work, an automated reference and background checking solution for forward-thinking companies that care about candidate experience. Founded in 2017, Zinc has a unique approach to background checking, redefining industry standards.