As vaccination levels rise and major U.S. population centers fully reopen, business owners may find themselves pondering an intriguing thought: Should we have a company retreat this year?
Although there are still health risks to consider, your employees may love the idea of attending an in-person event after so many months of video calls, emails, and instant messages. The challenge to you is to plan a retreat that is safe, productive, and enjoyable — and that does not unreasonably disrupt company operations.
Mixing Business with Fun
First, establish your primary objectives well in advance. Determine and prioritize a list of the important issues you want to address but include only the top two or three on the final agenda. Otherwise, you risk rushing through some items without adequate time for discussion and formalized action plans.
If one of the objectives is to include time for socializing or recreational activities, great. Mixing business with fun keeps people energized. However, if staff see the retreat as merely time away from the office to party and golf, do not expect to complete many work-related agenda items. One way to find the right mix is to consider scheduling work sessions for the morning and more fun, team-building exercises later in the day.
Craft a Flexible Budget
Next, work on the budget. Determining available resources early in the planning process will help you set limits for variable costs such as location, accommodations, food, transportation, speakers, and entertainment.
Instead of insisting on certain days for the retreat, select a range of possible dates. Doing so widens site selection and makes it easier to negotiate favorable hotel and travel rates. Keep your budget as flexible as possible, building in a five percent to 10 percent safety cushion. Always expect unforeseen, last-minute expenses.
The good news is that the hospitality industry is generally trying to rebound from the very difficult downturn it suffered because of the pandemic. So, you may be able to find some special deals offered to ‘draw out’ companies that have not held a retreat in a while.
Also, if you wish to truly reduce the health risks, you might want to focus on venues with outdoor facilities, such as farms or golf resorts where you could hold sessions mostly outside (weather permitting, of course).
Reunite & Reenergize
Holding a company retreat this year may be a great way to reunite and reenergize your workforce. As convenient and practical as video meeting technology may be, there is nothing quite like seeing each other in person.