Team retreats sound good in theory. What better way to show your team you appreciate them than to send them to a beachy paradise or a swanky ski resort? It’s an extravagant gesture, and in our current working climate of low engagement, extravagant gestures might be just what you need to perk up team productivity, morale, and teamwork.
However, company trips can have some drawbacks, and it’s important to think carefully before you send out an email proposing a trip to Hawaii. So are company trips a good idea? Let’s take a look.
The Benefits of Company Retreats
For many people, the idea of working at a company that offers team-building trips is extremely attractive. It can be a great perk to advertise during hiring, but retreats are much more valuable for maintaining morale long term than attracting new employees.
A company retreat can help everyone rekindle their creativity and teamwork by relaxing together. If it’s a working retreat, there will be fewer distractions, and everyone is likely to be in a good mood when the office setting is a resort or hotel. It’s a concentrated way to build communications and relationships between team members, and trips can be a great way to strengthen these bonds and build engagement.
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Drawbacks of Team-Building Trips
The main problems that can arise during a company trip often stem from potential safety issues, as well as being in close quarters for too long. There’s no break at the end of the day, which can be a particular problem for introverted employees, who need time to “recharge” alone. This is one of the reasons many companies have begun shifting to shorter, less intensive team-building activities that take place over a day or half day. Overnight trips are also extremely expensive, and it’s easy for the tab to get out of hand.
Another issue is that not everyone will be on the same page about what’s enjoyable. Some will want to drink and party, while others will be trying to get some work done or relax—and those differences can create friction. When emotions get out of hand, a retreat can have exactly the opposite of its intended effect: it could hurt morale instead of boost it. Another issue with company trips is that not everyone can go, and not everyone can go at once. This can lead to hurt feelings and resentment among the workforce.
Finally, work trips can have be a detriment to local environments. Beach tourism can have a negative impact on wildlife and increase pollution levels, something that companies need to consider when planning a trip.
Examine Your Reasons
Before you plan a company retreat, think very carefully about your reasons for doing so. There is absolutely nothing wrong with investing in employee morale, but it’s not a good idea to throw a retreat “just because”. Will you be celebrating a milestone? Trying to knock out a difficult project that requires people to collaborate? Thanking the team for their contributions? Trying to foster better communication and teamwork? If you’re only planning a company trip to boost morale, it’s important to remember that one gesture won’t fix underlying problems employees have with the company and the way it’s run.
Success Depends on Planning
If you do decide to plan an overnight trip for the team, its success will depend on the planning. Give your team members some options and ask for their opinion. What appeals the most?
Think about who needs to be there, and who needs to be available to run the company in the interim. Remember, if you do something for one team, it’s important to not neglect those who remain behind. Organize something that they can do together at a different time so no one feels resentful. Try to match event guests with their role on the team—which teams could benefit from closer communication, and which don’t really need to interact?
Timing is also important. Don’t plan a retreat during high stress times, or your team will be too busy and anxious to relax.
Smaller Budget? Stick Close to Home
If you’d love to offer your employees a retreat opportunity, but an overnight trip simply isn’t an option due to finances, start thinking closer to the office. You don’t have to take your team to see ancient wonders or a tropical beach to boost morale. A half-day or day activity in your own city can be just as helpful for encouraging teamwork and workplace happiness. Try something like volunteering, a cooking class, or a wine tasting, depending on the personalities in your company.
Get creative-it doesn’t have to be expensive! It’s always good to get your team out of the office and into a new environment, but it doesn’t have to be extravagant to have a positive effect.
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