We’ve all been there. The phones are ringing off the hook, the paperwork is overflowing, and the tension starts to build in the office. Working in events is a high-stress, high-intensity job and, without breaks, we are sure to suffer the consequences. Stress isn’t just an individual experience either; if left unchecked, it starts to spill over and harm the company-wide morale.
That is why company retreats are essential for maintaining a healthy and positive work environment for your team. We all like each other, but pressure can push us to the extremes. If you find your team bickering over place card displays or napkin designs, it’s time for everyone to take a timeout.
A retreat acts as a reset for us to have some downtime together and connect on a personal basis. It is excellent for team building as well as for self-care--after all, we all need breaks.
Whether it’s a weeklong trip to the beach or a night out with the team, socializing outside of work helps everyone to unwind and reconnect beyond the constraints of an office. Here are a few tips for hosting a successful company retreat:
1. Try new things as a group.
Going out of town is always an exciting adventure for a company, and it has the added benefit of introducing the team to new trends, patterns and design styles in other locales. You never know what kinds of food or decor you will encounter.
However, you do not need to head out of the city to host a reset. If you plan to stay in town, look for activities that are new to everyone and offer a team-building bonus. For example, we did an obstacle course together, and it was a blast! Then, follow it up with some cocktails and allow your team to let loose. You, too--take a break from being the boss and have some fun.
2. Switch up the timing.
In the event industry, we do not always have the luxury of set “breaks” in our year, so it requires flexibility to get the team together. No matter how busy we are, we still make sure to get away and relax as a team. It is as necessary as showing up on time for an event.
Some years, we have more opportunities, in other years, we have fewer. It doesn’t matter--it still gets done. We do always celebrate surviving the holiday season, so that is always something to look forward to in our company.
3. Make a plan.
Don’t just choose a date and let everyone figure it out once that day comes. Instead, go into the experience with a plan in place. What will you do? Where will you eat? If there is a new restaurant in town that everyone is dying to try, plan it with enough notice that you can grab a reservation.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate--sometimes, we’ll play air hockey until we just can’t anymore. You can even do a company-wide poll to see what people are most interested in doing. Just have an idea of how your team will come together, and it will be fantastic.
4. Pay attention to personalities.
Keep a close eye on the social circles in your company and how they align with individuals’ personalities. Notice if there are any cliques or friendships to be mindful of in the future. Is anyone being left out?
Retreats are a time to bring everyone together and expand their socialization. You want everyone to be interactive because, in the long run, it will strengthen the communication network within your company.
5. Prioritize experience, not cost.
A retreat can seem intimidating to business owners because it looks as though it will be a costly endeavor. However, you don’t need to host a luxury getaway for your whole team. A no-frills picnic in the park or trip to the bar can serve the same purpose.
The idea is to find a neutral ground where everyone feels comfortable to be themselves. It’s an opportunity to get out of the office and brush off the cobwebs--it does not need to cost a fortune.
High-intensity jobs take a toll on people. Few people know this better than an event professional. In a career where we go a 100 miles a minute all day, every day, it’s easy to burn out and crash. Stress is tangible and can quickly manifest into several adverse effects--poor sleep habits, lack of motivation, a decline in work performance, and a drop in overall mood and morale.
Setting aside time to care for yourself and your team is an essential responsibility of a good leader. You will find that post-retreat, your company will have new energy. You and your employees will discover yourselves refreshed and ready to give the job at hand their full attention.
Oleta Collins is the owner of Flourishing Art Design Studio, a florist and design studio in Bakersfield, Calif., specializing in luxury weddings and events. She is also a Certified Floral Designer and an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers.