THE BLOG

Why Corporate Retreats Need to Make a Comeback

12/05/2013 03:22 pm ET | Updated Feb 04, 2014
  • John Rampton Entrepreneur, online marketing guru and startup addict

In 2008, after receiving bailout money, AIG executives spent over $400,000 on a corporate retreat. Hosted at the lavish St. Regis Resort and Spa in Monarch Beach, California, the executives treated themselves to over $150,000 in food alone in only a week. Understandably, the public was outraged when this information leaked.

This image of corporate extravagance is, unfortunately, what most people think of when they hear the term "corporate retreat" and could explain why interest in corporate retreats is down nearly 90 percent from what it was in 2005.

It's true -- spending $23,000 on spa treatment alone (as AIG execs allegedly did) is a poor use of company funds, and downright unethical if your company is public. However, making a smart investment in the right kind of corporate retreat is a proven business tool that's ready to make a post-recession comeback.

Now that the economic recovery continues, corporate training is seeing its greatest increases in eight years. The improving image of corporate retreats is helping, too. While some companies have returned to the excessive retreat spending of years past, many businesses are finding ways to hold cost-effective, scaled-down corporate retreats with many of the same benefits.

Rather than spend limited company resources on in-office training by guest speakers (an expensive, time-consuming and, in many cases, frustrating process), corporate retreats need to be on your business' radar in 2014 because they offer something better. While in-office training inherently leads to wasted time, as employees return to their workstations after training sessions conclude, the self-contained nature of retreats prevents consistent time waste. Unlike the mandatory training by "self-help gurus" that many companies impose on their employees, workers look forward to retreats. And at retreats hosted by professional development specialists, there's no ineffective bumbling by middle-managers attempting to train skills they themselves haven't mastered.

Instead, corporate retreats have transformed to perform a vital service for businesses that ultimately generates more revenue without the wastefulness of past generations. Here's why your business needs to budget for a corporate retreat in 2014.

It Builds Morale.

Like spending vacation time, going on a corporate retreat allows your employees to renew their enthusiasm and excitement for work.

If your company prefers sunnier climates, a beachside retreat could provide the dose of Vitamin-D your employees need to recharge. Or, if a wilderness corporate retreat sounds more enticing, you and your employees can hold your retreat while admiring the great outdoors. It's been found that connecting with nature can improve the work performance of your employees.

Mark Duvall of Old Man's Cave Chalets is an advocate of such retreats:

"We see a lot of repeat business from our corporate clients. Getting away from the office and computers allows them to connect with one another and focus on high level strategy, without the usual distractions."

No matter where you go, the time away from the office will make your employees more excited and productive after returning to work.

It Genuinely Forges Bonds Between Your Employees.

Your company may spend time trying to encourage your employees to build relationships within the office, but this often results in some common workplace challenges.

Attempts to make your employees be friends often feels inauthentic, and can actually damage your business. Plus, if your office has difficult employees, the efforts spent managing them can place an expensive strain on company time and financial resources. There may also be very little your employees have in common with each other (other than who processes their direct deposits), limiting their incentive to build relationships.

When you spend time at the corporate retreat, however, your employees will participate in common activities they can talk about when normal work life resumes. This allows them to genuinely get to know each other better and develop authentic friendships based on shared experiences. This new found common ground will also increase their attachment to your company as an organization, decreasing expensive turnover rates.

It Provides Valuable Training.

A highly-skilled team of employers means your business will run more effectively and need less constant supervision from management. The retreat environment is the perfect place to develop creativity, teamwork, problem-solving and other valuable skills that result in increased productivity (and profits) for your company.

Plus, skill building. You can use the skill building training at retreats as a way to focus in-office training efforts throughout the year, or until the next retreat (that is, as long as your retreat includes more productive activities than three-legged races).

It Can Lure New Talent To The Team.

Trying to court a new employees, especially ones in high demand, takes more than a few free lunches. Inviting a prospective hire to your company's retreat can quickly integrate her or him 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. It also decreases the amount of time needed to help the new employee feel part of your team, allowing them to begin effective work sooner.

To begin planning your corporate retreat, begin planning your budget and choosing one of the many attractive retreats along the country. Your corporate retreats don't need to be the pinnacle of luxury retreats to be a smart investment for your company.

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