Now that economic times are recovering, corporate retreats are also on a major upswing. We've experienced the upsides of corporate retreats by hosting them, but we wanted to explore the hard facts and real benefits of having a corporate retreat. After consulting major business publications, we've got some great news-- corporate retreats prove to be much more than just a good time!
1. Take a Step Back and Lean In
One of the biggest worries about corporate retreats is that companies will loose valuable office time and end up withdrawing from everything "productive". On the contrary, corporate retreats are a great opportunity to take a step back, realign, rethink, and break down how to do better. Walter Chen for Business Insider, agrees. He insists, "Despite the label, a work retreat isn't a withdrawal or escape from work but an opportunity to lean into it on a higher level." So basically, the only thing you actually are withdrawing from is the "business as usual" mentality, which can lead to stagnation and lack of creativity.
2. Develop a Strong Work Culture
It seems like nearly every executive has an opinion about what company culture means. While they have different ideas, they all converge on the fact that good company culture needs to be established in the beginning stages. What does this mean? For startups and growing companies, it's imperative to build company culture just as you would build a product.
CEO of Okta, Tom McKinnon, told Forbes, "As you grow, it becomes harder to communicate everything, to get consensus on every decision or to create a process and procedure for everything. A strong and clear culture can give everyone the proper framework to work within."
One way to develop this culture and set positive precedents is through company retreats. The retreat's style, structure, and overall ambiance will help establish the culture you wish to bring back to the office. Further, having corporate retreats as a yearly tradition will also allow you to build company culture. Peters and Waterman discuss in their book "In Search of Excellence" that companies with extensive traditions have "strong cultures" and suggest that this commits workers to the company and leads to excellence.
3. Invest in Some Different Types of Bonds
We could tell you that trust falling into your co-workers arms and sharing a couple of cookies around the snack table are going to improve camaraderie, but we know you wouldn't believe it-- and for good reason! The truth is that organized bonding is not the way to building meaningful relationships or strengthen ties between coworkers. It has been found that bonding between co-workers occurs during unplanned moments.
Startup company iDoneThis went on a week-long retreat and decided to share some tips on what made their all-hands experience so beneficial. When speaking about bonding, the company writes, "We sang our hearts out during karaoke (and might have had more than one impromptu singing and/or dancing sessions)...and we used mealtimes as a chance to connect."
Connecting with coworkers is certainly something that comes out of company retreats, but the key is keeping the forced bonding to a minimum and letting the conversations flow organically. As iDoneThis' experience shows, the karaoke may have been an organized event but the impromptu singing, and the lightheartedness that came of it was anything but planned. So remember, while we may not be speaking of the bonds you usually deal with in the office, these type of bond will definitely yield some high returns!
4. Get Some Fresh Air
There have been numerous studies done by Stanford Professor Dr. Katie Curhan, Ed.D on contact with nature and the sense of well-being both in general and in the work force. Her studies suggest that activities in natural settings or exposure to natural features have important stress reduction and restoration effects.
Her findings suggest that corporate retreats are best when done in sunny, fresh, and natural settings. She says, that after experiencing mental stress (think about all those long work days), participants who walked for forty minutes in an area heavily populated by trees and other vegetation reported more positive emotions and performed better on subsequent cognitive tasks that did participants who walked in a pleasant urban environment without greenery.
Holding corporate retreats in estate venues is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors and still have enough space and privacy for formal discussions and important activities. The Sanctuary Estate in Rancho Santa Fe incorporates zen elements into its construction and offers equestrian trains, waterfalls, and even a private pond.
For something more rustic and grand, the Caballo Estate in Los Altos Hills, California is perfect for corporate retreats. Set on 11 pristine acres, the estate offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay and the expansive property offers enough room for 700+ guests.
5. Showing Off Can Pay Off
Now we are not suggesting you repeat AIG's scandalous corporate retreat of 2008, but it turns out that the image of corporate retreats is on the rise. This is especially important when trying to lure in some new talent to the team. Instead of inviting that sought-after executive to a few free lunches, inviting them to your company's retreat can quickly introduce her to the best of your company.
Entrepreneur John Rampton tells Huff Post Business, "inviting a prospective hire to your company's retreat can quickly integrate her into your corporate culture, show off your company's assets in an environment that highlights company strengths, and make choosing your company the natural decision."
What benefits have you experienced with corporate retreats?