Who's ready for some mandatory fun!?
When a corporation announces that there is going to be a company retreat, there are two reactions:
Excitement about getting out of the office ...
... or an immense feeling of dread.
Ideally, an organization would have their employees thrilled about getting together and establishing better relationships, but that's not always the case. If you're considering conducting a corporate retreat, here are a few dos and don'ts that are worth keeping in mind:
DON'T have a retreat just to have one.
Sure, it looks good on paper that you hosted a company retreat, but if you're putting on this event just to boost your corporate image, you're not doing anyone any favors.
DO arrange it months in advance.
This way employees can assess time for projects and other work-related commitments that may coincide with the event's timing.
DON'T make it mandatory.
If you've ever wondered how you can brew a severe amount of resentment within a company, this is a great way to start. I once worked with a man who, despite having a severe heat intolerance, had to show up to a summertime company retreat at a golf course. Instead of being at work getting a project done, he had to sit inside all day while the department took part in a day-long golf tournament. Let people opt out of the event and don't shame them for doing so.
Also, if this is an overnight event, give your employees, especially ones who are parents, the option of only doing one day of the retreat. Finding an overnight sitter can be difficult and some family situations require flexibility if the children are young or have special needs.
DO make it fun.
Have several activities throughout the day that everyone can enjoy. Whether it's a sand volleyball game, a water balloon toss, an obstacle course, or a creativity challenge, make sure everyone stays entertained and feels included.
DON'T make it awkward.
If it involves scare tactics, animals, or unfamiliar foods, leave it out. You don't want to trigger panic or allergy attacks that could possibly get your company sued for negligence. Also, if the event is near water, don't encourage swimsuits because Jessica over in Accounts Payable probably doesn't want her coworkers knowing what she looks like in a bikini.
DO have an objective.
Make it clear ahead of time what the goal of this retreat is about. Whether it's building stronger relationships, designing next year's strategic plan, breaking up day-to-day monotony, or issuing awards for hard work, let those who are invited know what will be happening by providing an agenda in advance.