A staff retreat is a great way for employees to get to know each other outside of the office walls. In today’s increasingly remote work environment, they’re often becoming one of the only times that team members spend time in person. Regardless of how frequently team members meet face to face, staff retreats can be an important part of cultivating a positive and productive work environment. Time spent on retreats can increase trust, prolificacy, and happiness in the workplace.
What is a staff retreat?
A staff retreat is an off-site gathering of employees that can be held at all types of venues. One company may choose to do an afternoon staff retreat over a BBQ in someone’s back yard while another might be held over 3 days at a resort. Staff retreats can be held to accomplish different goals for a work team. Sometimes the goal of the retreat can be social, with games for getting to know each other and icebreakers. Or a retreat may be focused on a greater problem within the office, like streamlining services, overall growth, or enhanced teamwork.
Planning a staff retreat
- Decide where to go. Let your staff have a say by allowing them to vote on apps like Troupe for their favorite destinations/venues.
- Plan activities everyone will enjoy. Check out some ideas below.
- Consider a theme for the retreat if appropriate. Think about the things you most want to accomplish on the retreat. (i.e. Maximizing Productivity: How to work better together)
- Give everyone a say (let them vote!) on where you’re going and where you’re staying.
- Give everyone some free time on longer retreats. 24/7 bonding is counterintuitive to the goal.
- Balance work and play. Retreats are a good opportunity to brainstorm but they’re also about taking some time to relax and enjoy.
- Require team members to attend a staff retreat on their free time.
- Don’t forget that every team is different. Just because certain activities worked for a team in the past, doesn’t mean they’re good for everyone.
- Forget about family. Sometimes it’s appropriate to allow spouses and children.
Activity ideas for a staff retreat
Depending on the type of company/atmosphere/trip/what-have-you, you’ll want to cater your activities to something the entire group will enjoy.
For a group that’s getting to know each other
When you go on a staff retreat to help coworkers bond, you may be tempted to incorporate a lot of icebreaker activities. While these can at times be quite awkward, there are some ways to naviagate them to make them less cringeworthy. For starters, planning the retreat as a group allows all team members to offer suggestions on ativities and respond to each others feedback. This way, you can have a good idea what types of activities everyone will enjoy.
Ideas for a staff retreat for bonding/teamwork:
- Cooking classes
- Trivia (Consider making a custom company-based game)
- Lighthearted icebreaker games
For a group that’s already comfortable together
These retreats are usually great because the team already gets along and you don’t have to worry about awkward icebreakers. In fact, one of the biggest concerns with these office getaways is usually keeping the focus on work. Planning fun activities is less important here as the team will enjoy whatever they’re doing together.
Ideas for a staff retreat for already-close coworkers:
- Board game tournaments
- BBQ with families
For a wellness retreat
With an increasing focus on mental health and wellness in the workplace, companies are increasingly looking to incorporate these aspects into staff retreats. Taking a wellness retreat as a company is a great way to give you employees time to unwind. It will also help teach the entire team best practices for maintaining mental health going forward.
For a laidback staff retreat some activity ideas include:
- Group yoga
- Breath work sessions
- TED Talk viewing sessions