There are tons of options for corporate events, and some of them look awesome. Corporate events, and, to a larger extent, retreats, are attempts by company leadership to take their team out of the office, and… what? Make them more productive? Make them happier? It can be a big expense, that takes a huge amount of time to plan. It’s important to know whether they’re worth it in the first place.

ConnectedHR doesn’t host or organize, or even necessarily advocate retreats. This article isn’t being paid for. Our objective is to create safe environments for both the employers and employees. We love it when everything’s working the way it should. This is an honest look at whether corporate retreats contribute to that.

Coolest Corporate Events in Cleveland

If you’re in or around Cleveland, there are tons and tons of group activities for companies to choose from. Of course, it all depends on your group, but it’ll be super easy to find something that fits your employees. Let’s look at the kinds of events you could look at.

  • The Obvious but Amazing; Okay, so Cedar Point isn’t in Cleveland. We’re already breaking the one rule we had, but it’s still a great option. We’re spoiled by having such a high-caliber amusement park so close, and it offers way more than just rides. There are shows, there’s boating, overnight stays, and venues for you to bring in your team building exercises or entertainment.
  • The Classic Teambuilder; This is what people think of when they think of corporate events. It’s become something of a cliche, but it’s a standby for a reason. If you have the type of group that can get down with group activity (and likes each other), this may be a good choice for you.
  • The Unusual Adventure; Watson Adventures is very Cleveland-centric, so out-of-towners might want to just move on. These type of events are the activities that aren’t really related to the company, but more to the experience. If you have a bunch of Cleveland nerds or are one yourself, take advantage of this.
  • The Party; No link for this one, because it’s way too broad. Find a local winery, or even a restaurant with a private event space, or a special suite at a local sports venue. This one is definitely not about team training- it’s about having fun. Maybe you’re showing your appreciation for a spectacular quarter. Maybe you just want something fun. Open bar. Music. Something to look at. It’s a great time.

It’s all about options, and what you want to get out of the event. Construct your outing, and expectations, with one thing in mind- your employees may not see the event the way you do, and that will change how they experience it.

Are Corporate Retreats Worth It?

Let’s say you’re wondering whether you should even put an event or corporate retreat together in the first place. It’s a fair question. There are zero studies indicating that corporate retreats increase productivity or morale. Furthermore, interest in the concept has plummeted since the early 2000’s, which makes it seem like both company leaders and industrial psychologists are finding it difficult to justify the time and expense.

Corporate events have the same problem. There are plenty of articles online that will explain why these kind of events are super important, but every single one I’ve found was published by a company the organizes corporate events. So, it isn’t super easy to take their word for it.

You can’t evaluate possible events based on expectations you have for your employees. If a night out go-karting was all the sales team needed to increase their numbers, you have other problems. If doing trust-falls and sleeping in tents gets two feuding employees to get along, well, it won’t.

How to Make Corporate Retreats Worth It

The only way to not be disappointed in these events is to ask yourself what you can get out of it, and that means making a plan.

I’m assuming you’re the president/CEO/person in charge. In case you’ve forgotten, people are different around their boss. This means they typically behave better, but it can also suppress otherwise vibrant personalities. You won’t really get to know your employees until they become comfortable around you. There are several steps you can take to make that happen at your event.

  • Get your employees on board – The more involved people are in the process, the more invested they’ll be. You want to identify who you want to be there (probably everyone) and get their input. Put together a survey, or just send out an email, and see what kind of events people want to be part of.
  • Pick Something – You know your team. Maybe the 75-year-old grandmother doesn’t want to do a zip lining course. Maybe someone in recovery shouldn’t go to a wine tasting. Tailor your chosen activity more to your employees than to yourself.
  • Budget – Figure out what you’re doing and price it out. This is when you’ll ask yourself whether it’s worth it. This is also when you decide how big of an event you want to put together.
  • Send out an Agenda – After you’ve drafted an itinerary, let everyone know what it is. Again, keeping people involved maximizes participation. Plan out everything; people should know the food situation, forecast, level of activity, meetup times and how long they should plan on being gone.
  • Do it – Go to the thing. Have fun. Make sure everyone (or close to everyone) has fun too. Don’t put pressure on people, and give yourself an opportunity to observe.
  • Follow Up – Another survey or email when people get back will allow you to gauge the impact of the event. See whether they liked it, and how it can improve. Do better next time.

All of this is in service to one thing: giving yourself the chance to learn about your employees. Don’t put the impetus in them to perform, see how they operate outside their element. Get to know them in ways you wouldn’t otherwise. Maybe you can’t increase their productivity or morale directly, but you can absolutely improve things by discovering problems that wouldn’t otherwise be brought to you, confronting breakdowns in communication, or seeing what hidden talents and skills your people might have. Let them surprise you.

You should be a resource to your employees, and we’d love to be a resource to you. If you’re looking to build an effective HR department or further improve your company culture, give us a shout. Until then, good luck with your corporate events, and try to have fun.