5 Team Retreat Ideas for an Experience Your Team Will Appreciate

Team retreats are time to bond and to learn new things about teammates and colleagues. They are creative spaces to make a contribution to a team goal or help strategize on a new idea. And also, most importantly, a team retreat is an experience to enjoy!

Remember, this is not the office. You have taken your team out of an office environment on purpose. So let’s move away from the typical presentations, the usual powerpoints and the everyday workflow.

What you want to do is encourage new ways of thinking, engage with your team through shared learning experiences, and challenge them by using different sides of the brain. You want to reignite their passion for the company's mission, and bring each team member closer on both a personal and professional level.

The first thing to ask yourself when planning a retreat for your team is: what is the culture of your organization? Let that inform every element of the team retreat experience and help you make decisions along the way. Should it be remote wilderness? Should it be in a creative environment? Should it be urban and fast paced? Should it focus on building leadership skills? Is sustainability a priority? A team retreat should look and feel like a representation of the people, the values and the mission at the core of the organization.

You may also like our article 'Team Retreats Are the Key to a Successful Hybrid Work Model'.

happily events team retreats 2

Here are five things to consider when planning a company retreat that your team will appreciate.

1. Get back to nature together

Being in the great outdoors and taking in the beauty and wonder of nature brings out the best in people. There is nothing like a gorgeous landscape, a lush environment, and breathing in all that fresh air, to inspire and to reinvigorate. Quite simply, nature is healing, it is spiritual, it is beautiful, it is replenishing.

This activity could look like a leisurely walk, a bit of kayaking, foraging in the wild, bird watching, a casual bike ride, an art class outdoors - whatever feels right for your team and location.

2. Have a program where everyone can participate

Firstly, think about the individuals that will be participating; their strengths, their personalities, their talents, their general interests, ect. Consider ways that each person on the team can shine, allowing them to contribute to a piece of the program. Having encouragement and support from colleagues and bosses is motivating, rewarding and builds confidence in the team members.

The contributions could be artistic (eg. talent show), strategic (eg. blue sky ideas brainstorm), personal (eg. storytelling, most profound life experiences, funny things that also were a life lesson…), creativity or crafty (eg. make things, get your hands dirty, bring out everyone’s inner creativity).

 happily events EXP Retreat 2018 (Images: EXP Retreat 2018 produced by Happily. Read case study here.)

3. Give back to the local community

Consider including in the agenda something that allows the team to provide a much-need service to local nonprofits, NGOs or community organizations. The act of doing something to improve the lives of those in need is incredibly rewarding and nourishing both individually and as a team. Basically, it feels good to do good.

This can also be a wonderful opportunity for your team to work together to achieve a goal and bond over a shared sense of satisfaction.

  • Provide some basic communal work (such as painting, organizing, cleaning, gardening) for an under-resourced local community initiative
  • Work with an established program to plant trees
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  • Partner with underserved or disadvantaged kids programs for some sort of mentorship or confidence building activity
  • Connect with an animal shelter and interact with any animals in need of some love and affection

4. Explore your own backyard

Wherever your team retreat is set, make the location part of your program. Every town, city and state has a unique blend of culture, experiences, history and stories to be explored. No matter if the location is well-known or new to team members, there is always a fresh perspective to experience a community and city.

Some ideas are:

  • Walking tours of the city with a local architect
  • Foodie Tours
  • Conversations or interviews with interesting locals
  • A history tour with a local guide
  • Private tours of a local landmark or tourism location
  • A scavenger hunt around the city

happily events EXP Retreat 2018

(Images: EXP Retreat 2018 produced by Happily. Read case study here.)

5. Find out what team members don’t want out of the retreat

The goal for a retreat is to provide engaging experiences for your team to learn, grow and be challenged, and for them to always feel comfortable and capable in participating in each agenda item. Having a team member/s feeling excluded, unduly vulnerable or embarrassed in front of their colleagues would not be ideal.

If you have a general idea of what each team member would not be into, then you can more confidently plan a program that each member can thrive in and enjoy. The success of any event is dependent on the collective individual and personal experiences of those involved.

Some examples may be as simple as, if some team members…

  • don’t drink alcohol or very little, reconsider a winery tour
  • have health issues, then no overly physically demanding activities
  • do not feel safe around water, don’t include any water based activities

To further this, consider making optional sessions or a ‘choose your own adventure’ afternoon with two or three activities for team members to select from.