Proponents of traditional training programs and corporate penny pinchers might share a certain skeptical sentiment: what’s so special about company retreats?
Are they really worth the cost? Are they really that different from on-site training? Is it worth the time commitment?
The short answer to all of those questions: YES.
When you need to make a big change in a company, restructure a department, get a new team up to speed, or redefine the responsibilities of a certain job title, you’re looking at a pretty serious investment of time and effort.
This investment is even more costly when it interferes with daily operations – you end up with trainers trying to wear two hats at once, disengagement from the group because of outside distractions, and general confusion as people try to navigate new responsibilities when they haven’t fully shed the old ones.
All of those problems underscore the value of a retreat. Think about it: if you can effectively remove the employees/trainees (and those doing the training) from the workplace, no one has to juggle the company’s daily operations. Instead, everyone can focus on the task at hand.
Focus is also a huge factor by itself, even beyond the potential to be distracted by the daily goings on of business. Simply changing the scenery can have a massive impact on engagement. This is especially true for existing employees, but even for new hires, getting away from day-to-day reality has a way of priming people for new experiences – and more importantly, for retaining what happens when they venture away from “home.”
And that’s really the most important point: retreats are immersive experiences. It’s not something you punch into for a little while, walk away from, and come back to after the break or the next day. When you’re there, you’re there!
This isn’t to say that a retreat can’t be full of fun, or that there aren’t breaks or periods of time focused elsewhere. The value is in the physical presence, the understanding that everyone there has a common goal, and that you’re all there together to make it happen!
There’s a camaraderie that occurs when people are together for business, and that time spent carries over into other aspects of their lives. Retreats foster this kind of collaboration and “getting to know each other.” These, in turn, help people build the trust and teamwork that boost effectiveness, help training stick, and ultimately create company culture.
When people are free from distractions, unburdened by their daily workload, and whisked away to a new and interesting place to spend time with peers working toward a common goal, a lot of magic can happen!
Employee retreats take away a lot of the variables, as well as many of the elements that can turn in-house training and efforts to change into failures.
Want to learn more about how to turn your next retreat into an opportunity to transform? Read more here
Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.
Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.