Small Business Brief


6 Work Retreat Ideas That Will Inspire and Motivate Your Employees

If you want your employees to truly thrive, sometimes you need to give them a break from the daily grind. These 6 work retreat ideas will leave them inspired.

Sometimes the best gift you can give to your staff is some time out of the cubicle. Company retreats help employees break out of their 9-5 office routine, and dive into a creative new territory.

Depending on the type of planner you are, a retreat is either highly anticipated or highly dreaded among your staff. Since they’re the bread and butter of your company, you owe it to them to plan a worthwhile weekend.

There are a lot of good and bad ways to converge all departments together for 2-3 days. You have a lot of personality types to consider, as well as age and other demographics. Let’s talk about 6 worthwhile work retreat ideas that will make the most of everyone’s time.

1. Break Down Department Walls

In an office setting, many of us feel pigeonholed to the specific departmental wing our desk is in. While most jobs call for cross-over among different branches, we still tend to gravitate to the ones we know best.

Use your company retreat to break down the barrier between your departments. Opening up these lines of communication will increase the efficiency of your office. Plus, this creates a more unified culture within the workplace, which is essential to both you and your employee’s success.

Breakout sessions with people from each department allow interaction among one another. You can have the heads of each department review the goals their division is working towards. Then, once in smaller groups, employees can talk about what they’re specifically doing.

2. Picking the Right Location

The location of your retreat is just as important as the activities you partake in. When doing your research, you should look for places that aren’t office-like. Employees don’t want to travel to a new city to sit in a conference room all day.

Instead, think of what settings are abnormal to their daily routines. This can extend well past their days in the office. For example, if your office is in a major city, consider holding the retreat is a small lake town.

That way, your employees can do things they normally wouldn’t get to do, such as hiking and boating, during their downtime. Even these non-work related activities can be hugely successful in spurring creativity on a work retreat.

3. Give Your Employees Downtime

Speaking of non-work related activities, we must mention the importance of downtime during a retreat. If your agenda is non-stop activity, your employees will feel sluggish upon return.

Honestly, this downtime is probably the most effective means for connecting your employees. Everyone should be able to have the opportunity to relax and not feel pressured to be productive.

You can offer ideas to fill the downtime, but make sure your employees know these aren’t mandatory. If you’re in a wildlife setting, you could suggest some nearby hiking trails, bird watching destinations, or lakes or ponds to swim in.

If you’re in a new city, keep an eye out for events that are going on during your retreat. See if there are any major sporting events, concerts, theatrical performances, etc. You could also recommend some of the must-see features of that city, such as landmarks and museums.

4. Work Hard, Play Hard

Work retreats shouldn’t be all work, no play. You’ll need a healthy balance of business-related activities, fun activities, and mere downtime.

You’ll want to make time for team-building activities and opportunities to discuss business. But, don’t let those be the end-all, be-all of what you do. As we mentioned, it’s often easier to find creativity through non-work related activities.

So with that being said, you need a few fun ideas for entertaining your staff. This should be separate from the employee’s downtime, as they’ll need their time off.

You could consider hosting some form of entertainment. Whether it’s an opening night celebration or last-day wrap-up, having a band or DJ can spruce up the party. Do your research to find more about an appropriate live act.

5. Let Your Employees Make Suggestions

Want in on who knows the most about your employees’ preferences? Yep, you guessed it- your employees themselves.

After you wrap up a retreat, get your employees’ feedback on the strengths and weaknesses. Do it promptly after you return to the office when the events are still fresh in their heads.

If you haven’t hosted a retreat before, you can still turn to employee insight. Send out emails or suggestion cards for staff to indicate their preferences. Keep in mind that you’ll probably already to consider a few core ideas, as opposed to allowing it to be a free-for-all.

6. Set Expectations

We’re going to end this on a not-so-fun note. While you do need to incorporate some fun into your trip, there should also be a sense of productivity. The best way to accomplish this is to set expectations from the very beginning.

Before you even leave for your trip, explain what you hope to accomplish with your employees. If they’re expecting a big get-away and you’re planning to hammer out work, you’ll all be disappointed.

Get an agenda to your staff a few weeks prior to you leaving. They can start thinking about any work-related plans and also prepare for off-time.

What Are Your Work Retreat Ideas?

Have any work retreat ideas you’ve found to be successful? We’d love for you to share in the comments below to further help our readers.

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