What Not To Do During A Work Retreat

Robin Schwartz

What Not To Do During A Work Retreat

Love them or hate them, workplace retreats are unavoidable for many. Sometimes, the retreat is job focused. Sometimes, it is meant to give employees an opportunity to connect outside of work.

There are behaviors to avoid at work retreats. Company organizers also need to consider what not to do when structuring a retreat so employees’ time is not wasted.

Work Retreats For Employees

Don’t Overindulge

Company retreats are multi-day events with social activities in the evening. Should you find yourself at a work retreat where alcohol is served, restrain yourself.

Retreats may have times dedicated for employees to relax and unwind but professionalism is still required. Having a few too many drinks is not funny, it’s possible detrimental to your career. Cap yourself at one social drink, if any at all.

Overindulging does not just pertain to alcohol consumption. If a work retreat involves going out to dinner, be considerate with your order. If you don’t normally eat steak and lobster tail, it’s probably not appropriate to insist the company feed it to you. Having the “it’s not my money” mentality does not usually look good on anyone.

Don’t Complain

Work retreats aren’t always the most fun activity to take part in. There is a reason your organization wants you to take time away from your current workload and come together.

You don’t do yourself any professional favors by complaining about having to be in attendance the entire time. Everyone else there has emails to get back to and deadlines to meet. Spending your time voicing your desire to be elsewhere will reflect poorly on you and will probably get back to company leadership.

Don’t Refuse to Participate

Work retreats are known for including “teambuilding” activities. Many people would rather not have to participate in these activities. Often, staff is expected to partake in icebreakers or other corny “get to know you” exercises. You can’t always be in the bathroom when these occur.

Refusing to participate in activities will be noticed by the instructors and your colleagues. It might not be your favorite thing to do, but realize that everyone else has to do it too.

Refusing to participate only promises you one thing – you will get nothing out of the retreat. Engage with the speakers and instructors by answering their questions or offering examples when asked. You can try to ensure you have a few applicable take-aways from the event.

Work Retreats For Companies

Don’t Schedule Outside of Work Hours

Companies should try to schedule work related retreats during standard work hours. Employees are already being asked to take time away from the office to participate.

Asking them to be present earlier than expected or much later than normal may negatively affect their personal lives. Remember that many employees are spending the morning getting children to school or taking care of other family schedules. Many employees need to stick with specifics schedules for commuting due to public transportation or local traffic patterns. Realize that employees will resist the idea of a work retreat more if they have to work longer to be there.

If there are activities that occur outside of standard work hours, like happy hours or dinners, consider making them voluntary. You will get the most out of your employees who are there if attending isn’t an inconvenience.

Don’t Let Leadership Be Absent

Employee retreats are usually designed with the idea that all levels of the organization are able to come together. Allowing senior leadership to opt out of retreat activities does not set a strong example.

Knowing that organizational leaders have the right to decline may cause employees to feel resentment. Having leadership in attendance is a opportunity for them to engage with employees. This more informal setting and to hear about the challenges that are facing the organization is a good time to come together.

Don’t Plan Unnecessary Activities

It cannot be said enough times – your employees’ time is valuable. By taking them away from the office and requiring them to attend, many are already stressing about the work they need to get done.

To avoid causing more anxiety, be thoughtful about the activities or workshops that are planned. Your company wants to ensure that they are “value added” to everyone in attendance.

The worst possible outcome from a work retreat is having employees leave feeling like they didn’t learn or gain anything new.

When done right, work retreats can be a great opportunity to connect with co-workers or develop new professional relationships.

Employees should go in with a positive attitude and try to get the most out of their time there. Companies should organize and develop work retreats around the needs of their employees.

Work retreats might not cause so many eye rolls if your employees actually gain something from them.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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