Company and corporate retreats are a highly effective way to resolve problematic areas within the organization. Before you plan your company retreat, it is essential to think about your goals and desired outcomes from the event and the underlying reasons for organizing the retreat. The answers to such questions will help guide you through the planning process and help to create a checklist for all future retreats. If you do not take the time to examine these areas for consideration prior to the planning stage, it will simply become a highly expensive event with no real benefits to company culture, team morale, communication, productivity or company insight. In this guide, we’ll show you how to create a checklist for your company retreat.
Reasons to Host a Company Retreat
The reasons to host a company, corporate or executive retreat will vary from organization to organization and event to event. Each retreat must serve a specific purpose for it to be successful and beneficial. You will be able to more easily and clearly express the expected roles of each individual to the success of the business, as well as individual and big picture company goals. These are just a few reasons to host a retreat. However, before you dive in there a few things to consider that will help with the planning.
☐ Meet with Executive team to brainstorm the reason for a retreat
☐ Meet with Executive team to DECIDE the reason for a retreat
☐ Establish a budget
☐ Decide on retreat activities
☐ Pinpoint desired outcome or reason for the retreat (ex. Establish communication framework across departments)
Checklist for Picking a Retreat Venue
Picking a venue is one of the most significant parts of the planning process. It is essential to consider a wide variety of aspects.
You should establish your budget before you begin to look at venues as costs could greatly limit your venue options. The location of the venue has the potential to encourage a larger attendance or discourage people from attending.
The same is true of the type of retreat you wish to create, such as an outdoorsy event that gives a feeling of escape and adventure while a nice hotel or resort gives a feeling of being pampered and treated to something special. And be sure the venue is large enough to host all of your attendees.
Example Venue Selection Checklist
☐ Consider which type of venue is appropriate for the theme (ex. Outdoorsy can give a feeling of escape or a nice hotel can give a more structured vibe)
☐ Research ideal season and availability for the desired retreat venue
☐ Check the venue’s location, price, amenities, etc…
☐ Verify that the venue has enough space to accommodate your retreat
☐ Confirm reservation for the retreat site.
Checklist for Picking a Date for Your Retreat
Attendance is key to the success of this type of company experience. Given the hectic lives of all employees with social, family and community commitments, you cannot expect everyone to drop everything to attend on a moment’s notice.
You can approach the date selection process in a few ways. You might send out a message to all individuals you would like in attendance and offer a few potential dates and ask which dates are ideal for each person.
Some companies like to keep date selection a bit more informal with a signup sheet or shared electronic invitations.
The underlying importance of date selection is to keep the team involved in the process rather than to force it upon them. Once you secure a date, you can proceed with preparations.
Example Date Picking Checklist
☐ Research ideal season and availability for the desired retreat venue
☐ Schedule an ideal time with attendees. (An app such as Doodle can help to pinpoint an ideal time when working with multiple overlapping schedules)
☐ Provide participants details on traveling and sleeping arrangements, tentative agendas, lists of what to bring, etc.
☐ Send out invitations/RSVPs to get a count of those interested and available to go
☐ Check available dates with senior managers or key members whose participation in the retreat is pivotal to its success
Checklist for Planning Transportation for Your Event
Transportation to and from the venue can be another possible hindrance to attendance, scheduling and event efficiency.
For venues that are relatively close, you have to take into consideration high traffic times of the day and whether or not you will compensate employees for their mileage. If a venue is significantly further away, you will have to provide the plane or bus tickets and arrange for transportation upon their arrival.
You might consider recommending carpools for more local events to reduce the cost to everyone involved or to supply a charter bus to keep everyone together.
Many retreat organizers have expressed that traffic and people becoming lost on the way to a venue can negatively impact the entire experience for individuals who do not have a pleasant trip on the way to the venue. If you do provide transportation to and from the retreat, be sure to take a final headcount the day before to ensure you have enough seats and vehicles.
Example Transportation Planning Checklist
☐ Make any necessary travel arrangement (ex. Car rentals, carpools, bus reserved, plane tickets)
☐ Circulate retreat agenda and obtain final approval from key team members
☐ Create a sign-in sheet to assure everyone arrives and get a proper headcount
☐ Arrange any transportation needs if necessary for once on site (ex. rental car to drive to an off-site location)
Checklist to Maximize Productivity During Retreat
To create the most productive retreat, it is of critical importance to stay on schedule. You should consider whether you wish to hire a third-party to keep the event on task and on time or whether an internal employee might be a good fit.
It is also important to realize that everyone participates and learns in different ways. Some people might be hesitant to be active participants during certain activities. You should prepare for this and try to provide group sessions that offer as many diverse approaches as possible.
It is also important to offer downtime and casual socializing. Allow your employees to go explore on their own for at least a few hours each day. The event should not feel like every day at work.
Example Productivity Checklist
☐ Meet with facility contact to ensure that the meeting room is set up properly
☐ Confirm meeting equipment and supplies are provided
☐ Build a schedule that includes breaks throughout the day
☐ Document the retreat experiences, along with information from the final evaluation for planning future retreats
Team Building Exercises Checklist
Regardless of the team building exercises you choose to implement, they should all eliminate any internal power structure as much as possible.
Basically, everyone should be seen and considered as equals during a team building session. You should also consider the overall goals of the retreat and select activities that will help you accomplish such goals.
It is possible that some people may not know each other before the retreat and some people may be shy. Try to incorporate icebreakers to allow people to feel at ease and comfortable with the activities and each other.
Some popular choices include learning experiences, such as painting and cooking, and structured discussions. Do not forget to create a social media hashtag (#OurCompanyRetreat2019) so that everyone can share their experiences online.
Example Team Building Activities Checklist
☐ Plan the actives that will help to accomplish your goals (ex. Ice breakers, Social learning experiences, etc..)
☐ Address any diversity or medical needs that hinder inclusion
☐ Coordinate participant preparation with key members or leaders at the retreat
☐ Create a social media tag to let the group share individual experiences or special moments
Checklist for Planning Retreat “Extracurriculars”
Take the time to explore the things to do in and around the retreat venue.
One of the ideas behind a retreat is to remove people from their daily work environment so that they have a unique and positive association with the experience.
If your event is held at an outdoor venue, encourage free time for hiking, kayaking, trail trekking, mindfulness, etc.
If you are staying at a hotel or resort, arrange for transportation to the closest retail area for exploration, such as coffee shops, speakeasies or spa treatments.
Example Extracurriculars Planning Checklist
☐ Prepare a handout of activities available during down times (ex. area hiking)
☐ Email handout one week before the retreat
☐ Check with attendees the first evening of the retreat to see if they have any questions about options
☐ Get feedback from attendees after the retreat on handout and options (did they use it? did they enjoy the options?)
Food and Meal Planning Checklist
You should also be sure to offer beverages and snacks throughout the day.
Do not forget to take into consideration the participants’ food preferences and dietary restrictions, including allergies and religious needs. And you have to determine whether or not to provide alcoholic beverages.
Many retreats will offer a social hour with drinks before dinner.
Example Meal Planning Checklist
☐ Find out what meals the retreat venue already supplies (some provide a continental breakfast)
☐ Decide on the number of prepared meals (will they be catered or will they be a nearby restaurant?)
☐ Arrange to have snacks and drinks available at all times instead of just during scheduled breaks
☐ Schedule a time after dinner for a casual social drink
☐ Take note of any dietary restrictions and make sure arrangments are made
A retreat can be one of the best ways to improve company performance, morale, and culture. Be sure to establish goals and desired accomplishments to help make the best choices for the most optimal outcomes. And do not forget to keep a retreat checklist to follow so that you can more easily manage the entire process.
Ready to get started with your retreat? Give Cliffview Resort a call (888) 596-0525 today to get a free, no-obligation quote from us. Everyone in your organization is sure to love it here in the Red River Gorge!