Whether your team is large or small, your team’s cohesiveness has a big impact on your bottom line. Refocusing team goals and cementing the internal relations that make your business run smoothly ought to be one of your company’s priorities. How valuable are a great product and booming sales climate without happy and engaged staff?
Team-building retreats are a great (and tax-deductible*) way to create esprit de corp with staff. Boards also can benefit from retreats for both strategic planning and bonding for better consensus. Early spring is the right time to make plans for your summer retreat.
Here are 5 easy tips to make sure your retreat is effective and focused:
1. Set priorities based on measurable goals.
For a couple of good reasons, your outcomes need to be measurable and attainable. According to Brigadebookkeeping.com,
“Statistics show team building events help boost employee morale, foster company loyalty and help employees work better together. If you host a company retreat with the goal of staff training, rather than entertaining, the IRS may allow you to deduct it. When planning your event, make sure to create company goals for your team and write down an agenda of events to not only share with your team, but to show the IRS if necessary.”
In addition to the tax incentive, your benchmark goals can be used throughout the year to remind and refocus team members on shared values and goals. The attention paid to staff morale also makes a great recruiting tool.
2. Choose your date carefully.
It might best to close the shop for a day and hold your retreat during regular business hours. Your payroll will not be affected by an evening or weekend addition of hours and employees will get an extra boost from being both at work and having fun at the same time. Try to be cognizant of holidays, dates when staff members might have time off already scheduled or dates when team members have standing family obligations. Based on the size of your company, you may want to do an informal poll to gather date consensus and set the date before planning begins.
3. Choose an activity that everyone is able to participate in.
The zipline excursion sounds like a blast but will every staff member be able to participate? Pick an activity that 100% of your staff can participate in and gain value from. Depending on the diverse demographics of your staff, you may need to find a venue which offers more than one option for activities and bring the group together after separate challenges.
4. Provide a problem-solving challenge.
Facing adversity together and finding ways in which each participant’s particular skills can help solve a problem builds camaraderie. Mystery rooms, puzzles, and scavenger hunts with complex clues can be fun for teams that solve complex problems every day. These exercises can emphasize the importance of the chain of information that makes work functions flow efficiently every day at the office.
Physical challenges are particularly good for groups of all types because the association that team members form between problem-solving and kinetic activity cements that perception. Some physical challenges require a variety of different skill sets in order to solve a physical puzzle. Be sure to include everyone no matter their level of ability.
5. Hire an outside coordinator to manage your event.
The planning of most internal events (where companies do not have a dedicated event manager) fall on the shoulders of one or more staff members. There are several reasons this practice is detrimental, especially for team-building events. First, a professional contractor will have the expertise to find the ideal location and services to make your event enjoyable, affordable and effective. Second, objectivity is critical to producing a team-building event based on your objectives; any staff member will bring assumptions and pre-conceived notions to the planning process. Finally, in the execution of the day’s events, it is important that each and every staff member participate in and enjoy the day’s activities. The planner staff member won’t be able to engage if he or she is managing the logistics of the event itself.
Do not delay. If your company’s team is in need of some TLC and bonding time, add this essential element to your plans right away. Venues book early! Your staff and your bottom line will thank you!
*consult a tax professional