An Inspired Annual Retreat: The Ultimate Way to Invest in Your Team

I’m not shy about my belief that virtual workplaces are the way of the future.

The traditional notion that team members should sit under one roof⎯between 9am and 5pm⎯is becoming a thing of the past.

An increasing number of companies are recognizing that they have to do more to attract and retain top talent. And that means providing incentives for associates. At the top of the list? Flexibility.  

When team members have the opportunity to work remotely and choose their own schedules, they tend to be happier and, as a result, higher performing.

My friends, what I’m seeing is that work-life balance is everything in today’s world. 

And mark my words: Telecommuting is not a trend⎯it’s here to stay because it puts us in the position to do our best work.  

Experts in workplace effectiveness, such as Stanford MBA Ann Bamesberger, remind us that those who operate virtually tend to be more productive and stay with a company longer when compared to their office-bound colleagues.

However, even the most progressive organizations realize the importance of regularly bringing a team together to collaborate. Socialization matters⎯and taking steps to prevent isolation can make or break a staff member’s livelihood.

LinkedIn tells us that the richness of face-to-face communication allows for fast paced and ad hoc interactions, which help to speed up decision-making and information flow in ways that have not yet been fully matched by purely virtual work environments.

In other words, find ways to strike a balance between team members working from separate locations and opportunities to connect in-person.

If you follow Approach on social [was that a shameless plug?], you may have noticed that last week was a big one. Our team of 20+ consultants came together for our annual meeting: two days of focused teambuilding to move our company⎯and most importantly ourselves⎯forward. We rolled up our sleeves and did some of our best goal-setting, strategizing, thinking and planning as a group. 

The result? Individuals who… 
… know their strengths and are ready to use them.
…feel valued and part of the organization’s future.
…are empowered to find new ways to serve clients.
An important part of the Approach culture, this retreat serves as a major energizer for our agency.  

Coming off the heels of a successful event, here are my top six tips for structuring an engaging experience for your team:  

  1. Celebrate wins
    We know that recognition goes a long way in terms of motivating staff. Kick off the meeting on a positive note by sharing team successes, from surpassing sales goals to glowing client testimonials for a job well done. 
  2. Get moving
    Plan activities that get people up and out of their seats. A Washington University study found that attendees who stood up had higher levels of engagement and became more creative in brainstorming.
  3. Combine business and pleasure
    In addition to incorporating focused planning and teambuilding sessions, sprinkle in some fun. Consider a wine/craft beer tasting or dinner at a locally-owned hotspot [bonus points if you’re able to support a client along the way]. 
  4. Mix and mingle
    One of the hallmarks of a strong company culture involves high levels of interaction. Structure your social hour in a way that encourages this type of behavior. Try casual conversation-starter games or setting up tall-top tables for dinner [as opposed to having everyone stuck in a seat at a formal table].  
  5. Learn something new
    The best associates are constantly looking for ways to grow in their practice. Tap internal talent and/or bring in an outside expert(s) within your industry to lead professional development so that folks walk away with new ideas and strategies to apply to their work.  
  6. Circle back
    End with a summary of what was accomplished as well as clearly-defined goals and/or next steps. Then, make sure you actually put plans into action, and communicate with staff when you do.  

By being intentional about how you organize the next team event, you can rest assured that it will absolutely pay off⎯because investing in people is always worth it.