Group of coworkers on a playground bridge during a company retreat.
All work and no play makes for a dull company retreat. Make sure to plan some time for relaxing, socializing, and having fun with your colleagues. — Getty Images/Robert Kneschke / EyeEm

Company retreats look different for every business and team, but they all demand the same care and attention to detail in the planning phase. If you’re interested in hosting a company retreat for your employees, follow these steps to ensure everyone has an enjoyable and productive time.

Pick a date, time, location, and budget

Different-sized companies will have different priorities when planning a company retreat. Larger companies with 20 or more employees in attendance will have a bigger budget but may struggle to find a date and time range that works for everyone. Smaller teams will have an easier time finding accommodations and a date that works but may have a smaller budget to work with.

As a first step, consider several factors for initial company retreat planning:

  • Will this retreat be in person, virtual, or hybrid?
  • Is this a mandatory retreat?
  • If the retreat is in person, how long will it be — one day, a few days, or a full week?
  • For in-person retreats, will the retreat take place at a central rented location (like an Airbnb or VRBO house), at an off-site event venue, or in your company’s office?

Decide how much you have to spend and the availability of the team you want to invite, then propose some options to gauge the best plan.

Plan a rough itinerary

Once you’ve established the basics of the company retreat, you can build a rough itinerary. If you’ve opted for a hybrid retreat, ensure each day has at least one hybrid activity.

The rough itinerary should encompass travel days (if applicable), head counts for meals and activities, and any work commitments that need to be met during the event. Build flexibility for those traveling far, as well as downtime and contingencies for the weather.

[Read more: How to Host a Hybrid Event]

Come up with activities

Every company retreat, no matter the duration or size, will require you to decide which activities are most useful and engaging to attendees.

In-person retreats may offer the opportunity for different types of team-building games and challenges, brainstorming sessions, or creative group classes like cooking or yoga. Virtual or hybrid retreats can often feature the same types of activities, but they will have to be planned to accommodate your employees’ home technology setups. Remember to plan and test any digital platforms if you plan to host virtual events.

Once the retreat comes to fruition, focus on being present with your team.

Overall, activities should directly further the goal of the retreat. Choose activities and games that foster team bonding if that’s the retreat’s overall goal — or, for retreats aimed at building the business in some way, create a motivating environment with activities that promote productivity.

Finalize budgets and plans and communicate expectations

Once you’ve built your rough itinerary with activities, start finalizing all your plans about three to four weeks in advance.

If you are planning to leverage your business’s social media presence during the retreat, prepare graphics ahead of time and gather the social media handles of any vendors or partners who will be involved. Communicate expectations to all attendees so they can organize work responsibilities, understand how they should act at the retreat, and receive an agenda. Issue information regarding reimbursements for food, gas, or accommodations if necessary.

Infuse personal touches

Take your company’s retreat to the next level by infusing personal touches wherever you can. If you’re planning to make swag bags for attendees, you can include things like new company attire, employees’ favorite snacks, and fun personalized items they can use during and after the retreat. Decorate your shared space in your brand colors or bring a Polaroid-style camera for easy memory-making.

[Read more: Perks That Small Businesses Can Offer Employees]

Have a great retreat!

Once the retreat comes to fruition, focus on being present with your team. Try not to stress over tiny details or stick to a rigid schedule. Instead, let conversation and activities flow naturally to cultivate the most organic experience. Capture pictures wherever you can and use the photos for social media — either to showcase your team or use them in a talent attraction and retention campaign.

When the retreat comes to an end, send a post-retreat survey to make next year’s event even better.

[Read more: Most Effective Employee Retention Strategies for Small Business]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published October 26, 2022