You’re thinking about offering a company retreat because something needs a push, a change, a breath of fresh air, a shake-up. This puts you in good company with innovative businesses who take retreats yearly, quarterly, or even monthly.
Why should you follow suit? Business leaders are learning that spending more hours working does not lead to better work. As a culture, we work hard. Most Americans report working 47 hours per week, and up to 40% of workers in the United States put in over 50 hours per week. We receive fewer vacation days than most developed countries, and we don’t even use them all. Our work/life balance is consistently rated as poor.
Company wellness is not only about improving attitudes and personal lives. Research shows that healthy employees are a smart business investment with big returns. A company retreat can be the first step to changing work culture, shifting priorities, and improving the overall health of your business.
How to Choose a Retreat & What to Expect
Don’t sign up for a retreat without doing your research first.
Consider Your Needs
Begin with a needs analysis of your employees and business. Retreats can be highly focused on socializing, motivation, team-building, education, or simply relaxing. Ask yourself why your team needs a retreat, then pick the one that best address your desired outcomes, whether that be sparking a creative boost, improving morale, gaining communication skills, providing training, or merely enjoying a restful getaway.
Next, consider your budget and employees’ travel needs to pick a location.
Guest speakers and leadership organizations can often travel to your site, so your retreat can fill your regular workplace with new people and activities. You can choose full-day or half-day retreats to work around your schedule. No travel is required for your team, and it might infuse a familiar environment with some new energy. This might also be a good option for employees who can’t be away from home overnight. Costs for an in-house retreat include speakers’ fees and catering for your team.
Off-site retreats can be kept within commuting distance, so team members can carpool to a conference center, park, beach, cabin, or hotel. You can even change it up daily, offering a three-day retreat at three different sites. Costs for day retreats include speaker and venue fees, employee travel, and meals.
You can also commit to an overnight retreat and get everyone away from work for several days and nights. Venues range from hotels and convention centers to ranches, cabins, and condos. Locations can be urban, remote, or even international. Costs for get-away retreats include employee travel, lodging, programming, food, outings, and materials.
What to Strive For
Rest makes us ready to work. Well-being keeps us working. Thinking is work. Let this time away from the workplace help you redefine both work and time. Let go of “busy” as the standard for (and status of) work.
Return your team to a mindset of curiosity, love of learning, and living in the present. You didn’t come a retreat to correct deficiencies or drill your team with data. Use your retreat to reshape employees’ minds and attitudes, so they maintain inquisitiveness and satisfaction on the job.
A good retreat offers new information, perspectives, and experiences. Parts of the program may seem uncomfortable, silly, or strange at times, but you and your team will need to embrace the novelty to see what you can learn. You won’t achieve beginner’s mind without an open mind.
You may see employees organizing themselves very differently than they do at the workplace. They may show new interests, gravitate toward different co-workers, display new personality traits, desire more solitude, or even eat differently. Let them ease into who they want to be on retreat, or redefine themselves entirely. Don’t lock them into worn expectations. Let them surprise you.
In addition to this list of unexpected benefits from Forbes, your employees should return to work with some of these as well:
1. Feeling Recognized. If you plan a quality retreat that fits your team’s needs, you recognize their value, creativity, time, and well-being. Employee recognition matters as much as money. More than inadequate pay, lack of recognition causes people to leave their jobs.
2. Feeling better. Reduced stress, more sleep, recreation time, and social opportunities improve an employee’s overall health. These benefits turn into company benefits in the form of increased productivity, improved performance, more resilience and emotional equanimity, higher job satisfaction, more motivation, fewer sick days, and less burnout.
3. Creativity. The unfamiliar is the birthplace of creativity. We need fresh eyes on every task and problem. Authentic creativity requires informed risk-taking, a skill that must be cultivated. Creative employees are adept at problem-solving, innovation, discovery, and knowing what they don’t know.
4. Culture of Connection. Workplace relationships matter. Employees create and maintain the company culture, and take cues from their leaders. Open communication, trust, common goals, shared stakes, and an emphasis on collaboration can all be built and refined through retreat engagement.
5. Built-in Recruiting. Employees who love their jobs will be natural recruiters. Moreover, retreats themselves can be recruitment opportunities. Advertise your retreat through community partnerships or sponsorships. Advertise and recruit during your retreat. Add the retreat to your list of employee benefits.
6. Ongoing work/life balance. Return to work committed to fostering a culture of self-care, and your employees will follow your lead by participating in future retreats, vitality programs, and other creative opportunities you provide.
Whatever your reason or need, you can find lasting benefits by investing in employees’ well-being. From day-long to week-long, exotic destinations to locations just around the corner, an off-site retreat may be just the jump-start your looking for.