How to Plan a Corporate Event: Building Connections and Boosting Morale

Corporate events have long been an effective way to engage employees and clients, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread cancellations and left the events industry reeling. As the pandemic loosened its grip in 2022, businesses...

Three smiling workers holding clipboards.

Corporate events have long been an effective way to engage employees and clients, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread cancellations and left the events industry reeling. As the pandemic loosened its grip in 2022, businesses gradually returned to booking these important events. Now, more than ever, business professionals, including event planners, are seeking guidance on how to plan a corporate event as industries make a comeback.

What Is a Company Retreat?

A company retreat is a type of corporate event where team members step away from their usual responsibilities and gather outside of the office. These retreats are typically hosted for specific teams or for all employees and management. They can include collaborative work projects, learning opportunities, team-building activities, and informal socializing.

The Benefits of Company Retreats

Company retreats are invaluable for building relationships and boosting morale among employees. They provide an opportunity to strengthen connections, emphasize the company's mission or vision, and reenergize employees in their work. Retreats can also lead to creative breakthroughs and uncover hidden talents that may not be evident in the typical office environment.

Benefits of company getaways.

Encouraging Creative Thinking

Activities that take employees away from their normal responsibilities and create opportunities for interaction with corporate leaders can foster trust and unleash creative thinking. Trust is known to enhance creativity, as stronger relationships lead to thinking outside the box.

Building Worker Morale

Stronger connections between employees and teams can significantly improve morale in the workplace. When employees have good friends at work, they tend to find their jobs more enjoyable, according to a report from Wildgoose.

Lowering Employee Stress

Corporate events with recreational activities allow workers to focus on goals and activities outside of their normal responsibilities, relieving the stress of day-to-day work.

Reducing Staff Turnover

Hosting retreats for employees shows that the company values its staff, leading to higher employee engagement and reduced turnover rates. It's been found that engaged employees are far less likely to seek new roles.

Uncovering Hidden Talents

Company retreats provide a platform for employees to showcase their hidden talents. Interacting with colleagues and participating in various projects and scenarios can help uncover strengths and identify roles that best suit each team member.

Finding Opportunities for Improvement

Retreats are not only about showcasing strengths but also about identifying areas for improvement. Through discussions and team-building activities, retreats can highlight areas that need attention, informing future training and team assignments.

Aligning Corporate Goals and Culture

Choosing retreat locations and activities that align with corporate goals and culture offers an opportunity to reinforce the mission and vision of the organization. Employees can participate in programming that highlights the company's values and engage in discussions that explore shared interests.

Providing Employee Recognition

Company retreats are an ideal time to celebrate the achievements of employees, especially those who may not receive frequent recognition in the office. Bringing members from different departments together enables cross-departmental recognition and increased engagement.

Company Retreats for Small Businesses: Ideas, Locations, and Resources

Small businesses with fewer employees and fewer resources can still plan successful company retreats. By offering a relaxed environment that encourages participation, small organizations can explore various ideas for how to plan a corporate event.

Company Retreat Ideas

From vision board parties to informal annual meetings, small businesses have a range of options for retreat activities. Here are some ideas:

  • Vision Board Party: Gather employees to brainstorm and create visual images of their personal and work vision and goals.
  • Informal Annual Meeting: Incorporate team-building activities and workshops into an annual meeting to share company activities and recognize employees' work.
  • Mission and Vision Discussion: Involve employees in shaping the company's mission and vision, starting with leaders outlining ideas and soliciting staff input and discussion.
  • Local Site Tours: If hosting an out-of-town event isn't feasible, consider touring local sites of interest, either by foot or bus.
  • In-Person or Online Games: Foster teamwork through outdoor games or sports tournaments. If in-person activities are not possible, online games can still promote camaraderie.
  • Skill Development: Focus on teaching employees a skill outside the scope of their work, such as drawing or painting, to foster creativity.
  • Community Volunteering: Engage employees in volunteer work to strengthen their bonds and provide a shared sense of purpose.
  • Wellness Seminar: Conduct a multiday seminar on various facets of wellness, encouraging employees to adopt a healthy lifestyle and prevent burnout.

Company Retreat Locations

When planning a company retreat, consider a variety of locations based on the desired atmosphere and budget. Options can range from camping facilities and resorts to local parks and coffee shops. Even an employee's home or a virtual setting can create a unique and engaging experience.

Company Retreat Resources

Numerous online resources are available to assist with the planning process of a company retreat. These resources offer valuable information, tips, and insights:

  • Help Scout: Provides planning and budgeting tips, exploring the benefits of retreats.
  • Moniker: Offers guidance on structuring retreats and shares ideas for locations.
  • Offsite Co.: Outlines the steps for planning retreats and provides information on timing, venues, and catering.
  • Outback Team Building & Training: A comprehensive guide to preparing for and evaluating the success of retreats.
  • Refreshing Mountain: Guides event planners through the retreat approval process, activities coordination, and offers a planning checklist.
  • Retreat Central: Offers a guide on establishing goals for retreats, choosing a location, and determining participants.
  • Zuddl: Provides tips for planning and presenting virtual or hybrid retreats to build trust and connection.

Event Planning Checklist for Small and Large Companies

Planning a successful corporate event requires careful coordination and attention to detail. An event planning checklist can streamline the process and ensure that all necessary steps are taken. Here are key considerations:

  • Establish event goals and objectives to guide planning and determine the event's purpose.
  • Select a suitable date and ensure it works for key stakeholders and that the chosen venue is available.
  • Set a clear agenda with a schedule for event activities that align with the event's goals and objectives.
  • Plan team-building activities and recreational sessions to encourage bonding and engagement among participants.
  • Determine the type and size of the event, whether it's a trade show, seminar, or company meeting, and plan accordingly.
  • Create and finalize a budget that accounts for all event-related expenses, such as venue fees, catering, and transportation.
  • Book a suitable retreat venue, considering factors like location, capacity, and facilities.
  • Arrange transportation for attendees, ensuring convenient and reliable options.
  • Choose a caterer to provide meals and snacks that align with the event's schedule and dietary needs.
  • Determine audiovisual requirements and ensure that the necessary equipment, such as microphones and video screens, is available.
  • Identify and contact potential speakers who can contribute to the event's goals and ensure their availability.
  • Develop and produce all necessary event materials, including printed pieces and attendee lists.
  • Manage event day setup by ensuring staff members are in their assigned positions and conducting run-throughs of presentations.
  • Gather feedback from attendees, staff members, and vendors to evaluate the event's success and guide future planning.

Event Planning Resources

A range of resources are available to assist with event planning, offering checklists, tips, and strategies:

  • The Bash: Provides a downloadable checklist and event theme ideas for corporate events.
  • Endless Events: Offers tips for setting event goals, selecting venues, and evaluating success.
  • Eventbrite: Outlines the steps to conduct a corporate event and when to take each step.
  • Glue Up: Describes different event types, marketing strategies, and health and safety considerations.
  • SnackNation: Provides a comprehensive checklist for planning corporate events, starting well in advance.
  • Social Tables: Gives key tips for successful event planning, including outsourcing tasks and designating a central contact for information.

Corporate Event: Ideas, Locations, and Resources

Corporate events encompass various types, including appreciation and awards events, company meetings, product launches, seminars, and trade shows. When planning these events, it's essential to consider engaging activities, suitable locations, and reputable event planning resources.

Corporate Event Ideas

To make corporate events engaging and memorable, a combination of business-related programming and social activities is key. Consider the following ideas:

  • Escape room challenge
  • Catchbox, a throwable microphone for audience comments
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Virtual reality training session
  • Live band performances
  • Providing puppies for attendees to play with
  • Visual artist rendering of event activities
  • Photo booth
  • Arcade games
  • Karaoke session
  • Cooking class

Corporate Event Locations

When selecting a location for a corporate event, consider the desired atmosphere and budget. Potential locations include gardens, hotels, convention centers, resorts, breweries, restaurants, golf courses, stadiums, cruise ships, art galleries, historical estates, zoos, and community centers.

Corporate Event Resources

Numerous online resources offer event planning insights, tips, and inspiration:

  • Amelia: Provides software recommendations and additional organizational and informational resources for event planning professionals.
  • Constant Contact: Explores promotional events, fundraising activities, and end-of-year functions, offering event planning resources.
  • Endless Events: Provides links to articles, handbooks, webinars, and checklists on various event planning topics, including hybrid meetings.
  • Event Solutions: Features event-related articles covering a wide range of topics, from marketing activities to product launches.
  • PC/Nametag: Lists various blogs, podcasts, guides, and influencers for event planners to bookmark and access valuable information.

Tips on How to Plan an Event Successfully

Planning a corporate event can be a daunting task, but following these key tips can help ensure success and reduce stress:

  • Research and plan early, starting as much as a year in advance to allow for smooth operation and timely invitations to attendees.
  • Communicate effectively with vendors, clients, sponsors, and team members, keeping everyone informed and maintaining a central contact for information.
  • Have a backup plan in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as vendor mix-ups, weather problems, or changes in health and safety requirements.
  • Conduct thorough run-throughs of presentations to identify and address any issues with equipment or content before the event.
  • Implement effective event promotion strategies through social media, online advertising, and event giveaways.
  • Assign responsibilities to a capable team, delegating tasks and using planning software to ensure smooth coordination.
  • Remain flexible and adaptable, acknowledging that issues may arise and allowing for flexibility in event timelines and activity schedules.
  • Gather feedback from participants, staff members, vendors, and corporate officials to evaluate and improve future events.

Resources for Planning Events Successfully

For valuable tips and advice, event planners can turn to online resources such as:

  • Color Reflections: Offers beginner tips for planning events, managing expectations, and taking a big-picture approach.
  • Social Tables: Provides time-saving event planning tricks, from handling last-minute changes to organizing tasks and staff training.
  • Indeed: Describes steps for avoiding common pitfalls in event planning, including budget concerns and unclear vendor expectations.
  • Peerspace: Outlines event planning tips straight from the pros, guiding planners on what to do and what to avoid during the planning process.

Plan for the Perfect Corporate Event

Corporate events offer businesses and stakeholders a range of benefits, from celebrating achievements to building office culture and planning for the future. As these events make a comeback after the challenges posed by the pandemic, event planners and professionals are eager to create memorable and impactful experiences. With proper planning, resources, and attention to detail, corporate events can inspire, inform, and create lasting connections.