Planning Your Corporate Retreat

Joe Weinlick
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With corporate retreats, there's rarely a middle ground — it is usually a success or a failure. Long lectures, forced creativity and poor planning can leave participants bored and uninspired. With a little creativity, you can create a retreat that leaves your employees feeling energized and excited to get back to work.

Set a Goal

The failure to identify an objective is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when planning corporate retreats. Before you do anything else, write down what you want to accomplish during the event. Do you need to buckle down and complete a project? Are you planning to rebrand the company? Do you want to increase trust and employee engagement? With a specific purpose in mind, you can design powerful sessions that work toward the end goal.

Involve Everyone

Corporate retreats are often something of a mystery to people who are not directly involved in the planning process. Low-level employees, in particular, are rarely invited to participate in the organization of the event. Create a greater sense of ownership by inviting people from across the company to participate by joining committees or submitting ideas for the agenda. Schedule different people to lead sessions, making an effort to include speakers at varying management levels. A broader schedule of speakers can ensure that the company retreat has something to interest everyone.

Make Time for Fun

Corporate retreats can be expensive affairs, so many managers try to pack the time full of activities and work sessions. If you feel exhausted just looking at the event schedule, consider planning some fun and relaxing activities. Sporting events, games, hikes or excursions allow employees to chat and strengthen their relationships in an informal setting. Free time can be productive; it gives workers time to reflect, process and develop creative ideas. The unstructured environment also supports free-flowing conversations that can lead to transformative innovations.


Digital devices can spell death for corporate retreats, even those with the greatest potential. Phones, in particular, create distractions that derail sessions and inhibit productivity. Before your company retreat, consider a ban on phones and tablets, except those necessary for the activity at hand. In doing so, you can ensure that everyone is focused on the session instead of checking Facebook under the table. If you encounter pushback, give participants time to catch up between activities. The freedom from email alerts and text messages can create an atmosphere of peace and enable greater focus.

Successful corporate retreats are a challenge to plan and execute, but the potential for growth is enormous. By creating focused and fun events, you can make the best use of your time and come out the other side as a stronger, more cohesive team.


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