We discussed the less attractive side of the corporate away day (here). Now for the “good”!

An away day can have positive, long-lasting effects on a workforce, be the entire team or departmental. It is imperative you keep your objective in mind at all times: to build and strengthen team morale.

Make sure your team want to participate. A simple survey or informal discussion in a team meeting will allow you to gain an understanding of what themes and activities most employees would feel comfortable doing. It does not matter how you do your fact-finding, but make sure your findings are as accurate as possible and not tweaked to your on opinions (or that of the key decision makers).

Speaking of the key decision makers, just like a wellness programme, you must have buy-in and support from this senior group, not just for an adequate budget but because without it; employees will not feel comfortable participating. They need their manager to be supportive of their attendance.

Have a reason for the day. If you run the day because there have been pay cuts or redundancies, you may risk employees feeling the money could have been better spent if you don’t clearly communicate the purpose of the day. An away day can serve to inform of new initiatives, to celebrate a new beginning, to show togetherness through a difficult time. The message must be active and concise.

One day of light and fun activities will not be a success if the general attitude at work is negative. Send out the message that the away day marks the start of a more positive workplace.

A wellness themed away day is not only current, but it also sends a simple, compelling message to employees; we care, we want to create a better place of work for you.

Plan some a follow up from the day. Be it a fully fledged wellness programme or an in-office wellness day or an attitudes survey over a lunch and learn. If your goal is to re-engage disillusioned employees with one day alone, you are destined to fail. However, if you want to stir some hope and initiate the path to cultural change; you are on the right track.

If you have employees that are well liked and super enthusiastic, then be sure to use them to spread the message of the day and drive excitement.

Play the day safe and play it neutral. Think fun and interactive workshops from nutrition to mindfulness more so than sky-diving or rally driving.

If the wellness away day consisted of senior executives spending every twenty minutes checking emails, while a guest speaker talks digital detox, or the employees attended a talk about nutrition before an unhealthy lunch, it’s fair to say the message (however good the content was) would have failed. Rules need to be established; no phones during activities and no work talk mid-session. Ensure food served is healthy (but not too extreme people are left hungry). The key: plan.

Wellness London creates bespoke wellness away days that can be stand-alone or part of a larger strategy, such an annual management or departmental day.

Whether you use an away day provider or plan it in-house; have a clear defined goal, have rules and ensure there is a follow-up so it is more than just a nicety.

The golden rules for a successful away day:

• Chose an external venue (a nice one at that!) – It will help with focus.
• Invite specialists to the day.
• Create and communicate an agenda, well in advance.
• Have a goal: what you want to achieve and what success looks like
• Motivate by daring to imagine what the above success will look like: how that benefits all.
• Empower/contribute – Give everyone a role/chance to voice their opinions about the day.
• Set ground rules: No phone time, everyone can talk and deserves to be listened to, no ideas are wrong, have a start and finish on-time.
• Log any ideas that could not be discussed thoroughly, due to lack of time (come back to them at an agreed date).
• Personal goals: What does success mean to each person? Learn each employee’s goals/interests. Wherever possible, listen and action.

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