Planning the Corporate Retreat

No series of words comes with more mixed feelings for coworkers than “corporate retreat.” On the one hand there are the employees that are excited about the weekend away, the adventure, the activities, the comedy speaker, the food! On the other, there are the employees that are dreading the weekend away…the activities…the corporate entertainer…. the food. Those planning the retreat usually find themselves in a tricky situation, trying desperately to create an event to further bonding and idea-sharing all within an appealing package. But before the planning team throws out the trust-falls, read on for tips to ensure the best corporate retreat possible.

It’s all a balancing act. Yes, you have to go over company strengths and weaknesses, but that’s not the only thing you will be doing. Balancing each day’s activities will give employees something to look forward to. So, mix in team brainstorming followed by a rousing paintball competition.

Have a clear goal. Whether this is an organizational development or a team building retreat, be clear and up-front with all participants. Have clear objectives and goals for all employees and all groups that attend. Once goals are established, create classes and activities to support the goals and stick to them.

Ask for input but be the final judge. Asking employees what they would like out of a retreat and what worked in the past is a great place to start when planning. Taking input lets employees know that their ideas are valued. While great ideas will be shared, not every idea will be viable. As the planner, use the information and know what will work and what will have to wait for the next time.

Remember employee needs. Outside of the business side of the event are the needs of each employee. Medical issues, or dietary needs will all need to be addressed. Gather information on needs and make plans accordingly to be sure each employee has what they require to attend the retreat.

Finally, simple is better. A personalized fireworks display may be a childhood dream, but is it really necessary for a successful retreat? Probably not. Keeping activities, meetings and entertainment simple, informative and fun will yield the best results. Ice sculptures may be super cool, but they won’t be needed at every meal. What matters most is what the employees and the employer will get and give through the retreat.


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