Pack Your Bag & Bring a Pen: One Exec Makes the Case For Company-Wide Retreats

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February 8, 2013 ‐ By
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Usually, to be invited to the big staff getaway, you have to be executive level. So while they’re off meeting, having dinners, and talking about whatever is being talked about, the rest of the staff is up to its usual workaday schedule.

Qliktech CEO Lars Bjrk has an issue with that. Everyone is asked to attend his company’s annual gathering. All 1,300 employees.

“Employee summits are really an investment in a company’s most valuable asset—its culture. Companies that cut costs by short-changing culture may just be sacrificing their futures to scale the next quarter’s results,” he writes for Quartz.

Saying it’s a matter of a company’s “identity and brand,” Bjrk argues that this is an opportunity to instill pride and collect innovative ideas. In that sense, it’s well worth the expense of bringing the whole gang along to participate.

From a business owner’s standpoint, that cost could be the primary sticking point, though having the whole staff in one place to discuss thoughts and issues — and perhaps even lay the groundwork for solving some of them — is a worthy endeavor. Business can benefit if the retreat is taken seriously.

For staffers, it’s a nice idea… “leveling the playing field” by including everyone from top to bottom. But let’s be honest: Once the initial enthusiasm sets in, you realize that you’re going to be spending a few days away from home, working, and then spending all your time with your co-workers. Sure, they’re nice people. But you prefer snuggling up with your pet/kids/significant other on your couch.

In the end, the issue becomes one of career advancement. A company retreat is an opportunity to step out of your usual role and shine in front of your managers and higher ups at the company. You get noticed, and greater opportunities can come your way.

Or maybe you swing the other way and think it’s a chance to do very little on the company’s dime. While it might be fun to have a few dinners and drinks on the company, if you do get the chance to participate in this sort of meeting, use it strategically. Introduce yourself to members of the team you’ve never met. Bring along a couple of ideas and deliver your elevator pitch to the appropriate managers when you have a chance. And get to know people who can promote you.

And for pete’s sake, don’t get drunk! And keep the funny business with the hot guy from accounting to a minimum.

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