The Benefits of a Corporate Retreat:
Even when it comes to the bottom line, a corporate retreat can be a surprisingly effective motivation for your organization. Consider the following scenario: You’re the CEO of a multinational corporation with offices spread across five cities on three continents. It’s fantastic: your sales are on track, your customers are queuing outside the door, and your C-suiters are continuously jetting across the country to meet with investors, clients, and one another.
However, there are persistent and new issues. For many employees in the larger offices on either side of the coast, Steve in HR has become “that guy in HR in Donegal” as a result of your company’s development. The VP of Finance has been replaced at world headquarters in Dublin by someone whose name most of your staff have forgotten, and if you’re a line manager, you’ll need that VP’s approval to expand your department fivefold following that new funding round. Worse, because of the unexpectedly slow quarter last year, there’s still a “we vs. them” mentality and a blaming culture amongst offices.
So you’re on the lookout for answers. A business getaway, as suggested, isn’t as weird as it sounds.
Here are five significant advantages of a company retreat.
1) It is possible to save money
Annual company retreats, contrary to popular assumption, are actually cost effective. Even if you spend a thousand euros per person on such an event, you’ll save money over the course of the year on:
Multiple business travels between cities for meetings, trainings, panels, and planning: teams may get the most out of their annual retreat by planning their strategies in person and then following up with regular digital follow-up.
Meetings with little notice, resulting in more expensive last-minute flights and higher costs associated with employee fatigue (and burnout): on the other hand, a business trip planned months in advance leaves more room for scheduling and communication among colleagues, plus the increased “personal touch” between colleagues after a retreat makes video meetings easier than ever.
Travel costs linked with the above: rather than booking tickets separately at different times, it’s more cost-effective to purchase all tickets for your complete workforce at once (and even take advantage of bargains and package deals).
All of these things are available on a single ticket with a yearly cadence. It’s simpler to say “no” to non-essential travel at other times now that you have an annual corporate retreat, while still sending the message that these all-hands meetings provide all employees a chance to meet with their remote team members.
Even if the rewards are intangible, a well-executed corporate retreat may be a financial blessing to your organization in terms of better morale, productivity, and engagement. There’s more on that later.
Assigning an experienced event planner and/or event manager to organize the retreat, and more importantly, maintaining tight control over the entire process, is similar to preparing a wedding. It’s difficult enough to plan a journey like this – and problems can and will occur. It’s preferable to allocate one person (or more, depending on the size of your firm) to planning all aspects of the trip. You should also make it as simple as possible for them, such as ensuring that all employees who live in the same city or area fly on the same aircraft so that you don’t have to track multiple flights for each employee. The amount of logistics in a retreat is astonishing enough that you don’t need extra PTO, hotel time, or dozens of different flights to accommodate the many different people in the company.
You should also set realistic expectations for expensing: having a clear guideline on what can and cannot be expensed, such as transportation to and from the airport or meals while traveling to and from the retreat. You can also more properly anticipate – and plan for – the retreat budget this way.
2) You get to know your coworkers
Some employees in a corporation get all the credit. After a record-breaking quarter, the sales team is congratulated, and the marketing department is given the opportunity to represent the company at conferences and work functions. But what about the development team? Or the customer service team? Or anyone who works in the trenches and contributes just as much – if not more – to the organization’s health and growth?
A corporate retreat allows you to bring these underappreciated groups into the same room as the aforementioned sales and marketing departments, allowing walled teams to communicate more effectively. In all-company presentations, your organization’s leaders and C-suiters can also emphasize the varied triumphs of each team – this is especially effective when many higher-level managers don’t meet with others in the organization on a daily basis. Recognition has also been acknowledged as a key driver of employee engagement.
Not only may your managers give presentations on behalf of their departments, but you can also hold a fun intra-company competition to show off your staff’ abilities. For example, developers can be challenged to create unique integrations and features, and marketers can compete to show off their most creative ideas for boosting the company’s brand. The results can make a big impact on the rest of the company, showcasing the skill and brains behind your product – and perhaps sparking fresh ideas for future integrations and features.
3) You can form cross-discipline teams
Larger firms, especially those spread over multiple cities and countries, might fall into the “we vs. them” mentality, and employees can feel disconnected from one another if their sole contact is through frequent team meetings, emails, and video chats. Even in the same workplace, when groups and squads are working closely together on projects but rarely engage with one another beyond the typical “head nod” or “good morning” as they pass each other in the hallway, the distance is felt.
When the workplace culture is already established, newer team members may struggle to integrate, while C-suiters and entry-level employees rarely have the opportunity to connect.
By offering an equal footing and inclusive environment in which employees and teams may thrive and socialize, a company retreat allows you to tear down those barriers among employees and teams. It’s a tremendous thing when everyone gets facetime with everyone.
Depending on the size of your company, you may find yourself splitting your employees into several travel groups for the retreat and back. You can assign a team leader to each of these groups and mix up the teams so that different employees from different departments are in the same group – for example, the company CEO in the same group as the marketing copywriter, with both of them ending up at Paris International Airport for breakfast after a long flight. Employees will, by default, interact with colleagues with whom they do not ordinarily deal on a regular basis, whether during the travel itself or during any unexpected complications that may arise (for instance, flight delays).
Also, an explicit message from higher-ups – such as the CEO – can be effective in reminding employees that this is an opportunity for everyone, regardless of their roles in the company, to get to know one another outside of work. Naturally, a naturally social situation like a Forest retreat or an all-hands nightly camp fire BBQ is ideal.
4) You can increase staff pride and morale
Let’s face it: while some people despise traveling for business, the enthusiasm that builds up before and during a corporate retreat may be palpable. Getting on an aircraft and being whisked away to a tropical location – or, at the very least, a luxury hotel in a city or region you’re unfamiliar with – is enticing, especially when employees don’t have to pay a dime. It’s also a statement from your company that you’re willing to put money into your staff in order for them to have a good time together.
It’s not simply the journey. When you bring in presentations, trainings, seminars, and lectures for the entire company or for each department, you’re also telling your staff that you care about their professional development. Employees will return to work on a similar energy level, exhausted yet energized, and possibly more interested in future projects as a result of their enhanced link.
You have a unique opportunity to share information across teams and schedule breakout sessions for each team – especially the distributed ones – at a business retreat. Make wise scheduling and event decisions so that training/learning seminars and team-planning activities are healthy interleaved with free time for employees to bond in casual settings.
5) You can also promote your business
Last but not least, a company retreat can provide considerable marketing opportunity in two ways. To begin, you can invite your favorite clientele and potential investors to your retreat, even encouraging them to speak on a panel about what they enjoy about your product or service or what they’d like to see in the future. This not only aids your team members in their planning, but it also demonstrates that you value your client base and your investments.
Second, telling potential employees that there would be an annual corporate retreat to an intriguing foreign location positions your organization as a desirable place to work. This is especially true if your company’s office is in an undesirable location for many potential employees – you may not have the nicest working environment, but you make up for it by sending employees to incredible locales.
A remarkable experience, or something out of the ordinary, is frequently shared with friends, peers, and family. Those who attend the retreat will talk about it for days, if not weeks, after they return home, and this is a marketing opportunity employing one of the most effective streams: word of mouth.
You don’t have to brag about your company retreat to others, but you can express gratitude to attendees – in this example, customers and investors – for attending. Details regarding your retreat can be shared on your company’s social media channels as well as on your careers page. This might help potential job seekers see your organization as a desirable place to work – an important component of recruitment marketing. Furthermore, you can bring prized applicants to a business retreat and force them to sign a contract on the spot.
A company retreat is an opportunity to collaborate
Now, in a professional or even friendly capacity, the HR guy in Donegal is acquainted with the VP of Finance in Dublin. The marketing guy in the Cork office no longer feels like they have to jump through hoops to get their new project approved — they’re more familiar with people in other locations, and they can gain approval more quickly since they know what “language” to use and who to speak with. Your CEO and other upper-level executives now feel more approachable, and the rest of the firm recognizes the value of your development team.
Your international corporation has now developed bridges across multiple divisions across offices, and employee morale has risen as a result. You now have a more productive, motivated workforce, which can – and should – have a positive impact on the bottom line. So, how about a business retreat? Yes, go ahead and do it.