What to Know About Planning a Staff Retreat

By Kaitlin Hurtado on October 19, 2022

The pandemic has altered the way many work, from many companies offering remote or hybrid work to their employees to some employees going through onboarding entirely remote, without seeing one of their coworkers face-to-face. Even if you have made the decision to have your team transition back to working in the office, you may find that your team doesn’t have the same level of collaboration or synergy pre-pandemic. This can be due to the introduction of new team members while you were working remotely, to employees feeling disconnected from one another after not being able to interact personally through the past couple of years. To remedy the disconnect issue, you may be considering planning a staff retreat for your team.

Planning a staff retreat can seem like a daunting task, but it can be well worth the effort of getting your team out of the office in order to reconnect and ultimately, improve their work performance. Keep reading for what to keep in mind as you begin planning a staff retreat.

Photo: Pexels

Define goals early on

Before you embark on your staff retreat, and really, before you even start planning, you should have a clear goal in mind. What do you want to achieve with your staff retreat? Do you want your team to improve on a certain set of skills? Do you want your team to connect with one another and improve their communication and teamwork?

Think of what you want to achieve with your staff retreat, and how you can plan the retreat so that the goal(s) can be achieved.

If you don’t have a particular goal in mind, consider hosting a survey before you begin planning a retreat. Have employees voice what they believe needs to be improved within the team – their feedback can bring up something you wouldn’t have even thought of and help you understand where your employees feel the team is at.

Once you have a goal or two in mind, you can start selecting what type of activities or discussion topics you can incorporate into the staff retreat to achieve your goals. With these, you can begin shaping a rough itinerary of the staff retreat as you allocate time to various activities or discussions.

Identify your budget and be realistic

In your early planning stages, you should clearly know what budget you are working with for the staff retreat. If your budget is nonnegotiable with no wiggle room, having a clear budget to follow during planning will help avoid any last-minute changes due to you realizing you are running out of funds mid-planning, or worse, mid-retreat.

Once you know your budget, you can properly select the right venue, activities, and other elements that will help you stay well within your budget,

From location to duration, engage employees on preferences

For some, a staff retreat can be an exciting opportunity, for others, it may bring a sense of dread as they may believe they have to figure out things like travel, childcare, and so on. When planning a staff retreat, engage your employees in shaping up the staff retreat.

Is it going to be a one-day retreat where no accommodations need to be figured out? Is it going to be close to the office where they do not have to change much to their usual commute? For example, if your employees are working remotely, or mostly remotely, planning a retreat may take a bit more planning if employees are spread out and not living in the same general area.

If employees can anticipate details like retreat duration and location, they can better plan and make room for the retreat, especially if it spans over the course of multiple days or takes place outside regular work hours.

Hire a facilitator to keep things moving effectively

Planning a staff retreat can be difficult in itself, but seeing it through to the end is another journey in itself. While you may be excited about what the retreat may bring to the team, some team members can dread the event and may not be as willing to give their all during the retreat.

Hire a facilitator that can help you and your team successfully complete a retreat. These facilitators are third-party professionals and can guide teambuilding sessions and discussions, helping everyone make the most of the event.

A third-party individual can also make your team feel more comfortable participating in the discussion, rather than having a manager or superior lead the discussion or activities.

Planning a staff retreat may seem like a lot of work, especially when you think other options like having a catered brunch at the office are enough to bring the team together and boost morale. However, a staff retreat done effectively can have employees connected in a new environment, inspire innovation, and bring long-term positive effects to the office.

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