If you’ve ever had to suffer a mundane, unproductive team bonding exercise at a corporate work retreat (you know the ones, the ‘trust fall’ or the ‘catch the egg’ game), you’ll probably be the first to dismiss these office outings as a waste of time and money. But if you look beyond the superficial motivational exercises and forced fun, you’ll find that company staff retreats are a great way to look at the business in perspective, have everyone step outside their ‘business as usual’ mentality, and offer up ideas on how things can be done better. In fact, many startups list company staff retreats as part of a successful business strategy, so it looks like they are here to stay.
Now is as good a time as any to organise a staff retreat or offsite. It’s the beginning of the year and an excellent time to be focusing on the business's goals and what improvements could be made to increase efficiency and job satisfaction for staff. It’s important, therefore, to make sure you organise a productive but enjoyable work office retreat — one that avoids any cringe-worthy team building exercises. Here are some tips and ideas to help get your corporate retreat planning started and is useful, productive, yet fun.
Picking a venue is probably the most challenging part of organising corporate retreats. You should look at locations away from the office, but the question is, how far should you go? If you’re hoping to save on travel costs (so you can spend the budget elsewhere), it’s best to hold the retreat within the boundaries of your city or just outside it.
Make sure the venue, or location offers a quiet space in which to hold brainstorms and other exercises. Most hotels and lodges have boardrooms, conference rooms and meeting rooms that make for a productive environment. Think about other activities you might like to include. Can they be done in the conference room or will they involve the outdoors for example? And work back from there.
Productivity and enthusiasm is likely to be hindered if people start getting hungry, so catering for all day training is hugely important. Tea, coffee and water should always be on hand, as should snacks. Find a local corporate caterer that delivers to the location in which you’re having your retreat, and work with them to put together something (or, use Order-In for your all day corporate catering needs. We have many corporate caterers in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra or Adelaide who can cater for your corporate retreat).
When it comes to the main meals such as breakfast, lunch and dinner, make sure that the food is excellent quality. You don’t want staff thinking you’ve scrimped on the food budget! Make sure you cater to any special dietary requirements and let staff feel as if they can indulge a little. Spoiling your team members with delicious food is a great way to reward them for all their hard work.
Once you’ve established a venue and organised the corporate catering, it’s time to start planning the agenda for the day. You may need to involve senior team members of the business at this stage, because they are likely to be in charge of determining the purpose of the staff retreat and what needs to be achieved. Stick to your agenda to keep every focused. Check out our guide to hosting meetings for more tips.
Make sure you dedicate sufficient time for in-depth discussions on any issues that are under consideration, but add in regular breaks every few hours or so for tea, coffee and snacks and keep people motivated. Be generous when setting aside time for meals, because this will provide extra opportunities for staff to socialise and get to know each other outside of the work environment. Finally, include any fun activities, and wrap up and review of the next action steps.
You may or may not decide to assign a facilitator, but opting for one could help the staff retreat run more smoothly.
There might be someone in the office that’s perfect for the job otherwise you can source a professional. They will help ‘facilitate’ group discussions, set expectations and goals as well as ensure that the agenda is adhered to. Afterwards, you can call on them to help summarise decisions made and action steps that need to be taken. Use the services of our experienced event managers if you need assistance or ideas planning corporate work retreats for your business - we'll make sure your day is a success.