Away days are a part of the culture of many companies nowadays. But despite most organisations being in favour of them, some would argue that team building days are pointless and a distraction from ‘real work’.
At BrightLemon we’ve figured out how to make our away days worthwhile - beneficial to the company growth, as well as enjoyable for the whole team. So, how can you do the same? Below we are disclosing the secrets of a successful away day at BrightLemon.
HOW WE DO AWAY DAYS
Let the team decide
Although companies like to think of away days as a treat for their employees, the thought of an approaching away day can apathetic for some team members. With the same people creating the same agenda year in and year out, away days become more of a burden rather than a blessing. You should avoid mundane and formulaic away days that achieve little, by allowing the team make their own decision on what they want to do.
At BrightLemon, management will assign a budget to the away day and then let staff members brainstorm ideas on what activities they would like to do.
Skip the trust fall exercises and the towers made from straws and marshmallows. Instead, be daring and try different things every time you arrange an away day. There is no cap on creativity when it comes to brainstorming ideas. Employees are encouraged to be as outrageous and as adventurous as possible.
Get third parties in to run activities or do keynotes, or skip the team building altogether and have a ‘no-agenda day’ where relaxation is the sole purpose.
Set goals and objectives
There must be a clear purpose about why the away day is being held in the first place. You should think about what you would like to achieve from it. The benefits and investments of the away day are only measurable if goals and objectives are set. All of the team must be made aware of these objectives, in order to take part as effectively as possible.
Work hard, play hard
At BrightLemon, we split the away day into two. For the first half of the day, the team takes part in exercises that are focused on reaching our objectives and goals and/or driving business or team development. This can range from HR activities, group brainstorms, feedback sessions, etc.
This is followed by a well-deserved lunch break that splits up the day. We provide a tasty feast for the team to get them fuelled up for a fun-filled afternoon.
As for the second half of the day, staff can unwind and go wild out-of-office - taking part in whatever team building activity they’ve voted on doing.
Always follow up
For an away day to be worthwhile, it’s essential to take as much information from the day as possible. We gather feedback from the staff at the end and use this to consider how we can improve our next away day.
We also take the time to summarise all of the outcomes and share these with the team in clear documentation. Where possible, the outcomes are then included in the ‘wider picture’ of the company e.g the company values and mission.
There is nothing more frustrating than feeling as if you put a lot of work and time into an away day, only to see that your efforts have amounted to nothing because no attempt at change has been made. This applies to both the employer and employees and can affect people's’ attitude towards following away days. Any suggestions that have arose from away days must be implemented as soon as possible.
WHY WE DO AWAY DAYS
There is an almost limitless amount of benefits to a company away day - both professionally and personally.
Benefits to the team:
Rewards good results
The day can be used as a reward for hard work. A team that feels appreciated is a happy team.
Changing the environment and getting out of the office to something fun and creative is a great mood booster.
Team bonding/builds relationships
It’s a socialise, as well as work together towards common goals.
Team members spend more time together, which gives confidence to build trust and increases communication between people. You can even tailor an activity/exercise to develop on team skills such as communication.
Opportunity to learn about one another
The roles within organisations are so varied that some employees may not work together often, or at all. It’s a great way to find out hidden potential and talents.
Creates shared experiences
Even if two team members are polar opposites and have no similarities to bond over, they will always have the away day in common.
Encourages healthy competition
Any games, quizzes or activities that involve a little competition are good for encouraging motivation and demonstrate determination amongst the team.
Form of stress release
When a company focuses on the team’s wellbeing it shows that they care. An away day is a break from the daily grind and great way to feel more refreshed.
Benefits to the whole organisation:
Happy staff are more productive staff.
Allows feedback opportunities
Environments that are safe, open and have good rapport allow for honest insights and opinions from team members.
Encourages loyalty in the workforce
Employees feel invested in the company after having an input in the away day and seeing their suggestions being implemented in the aftermath.
Different atmosphere to think differently
Getting away from the desk and interacting with colleagues in a completely new environment can lead to generation of new and unique ideas. Without the usual distractions, people can think differently.
Away days are a good opportunity to share the company vision. All team members are then on the same page, working towards common goals with a clearer sense of shared purpose.
There’s no right or wrong way to do an away day. That’s the fun of it. The way that you choose to carry out your away day should be subjective to the goals of the company and the functionality of the team. You have to figure out what does and doesn’t work for these.