Company culture isn’t just a buzzword; it plays a vital role in attracting and retaining top employees. One of the best ways to cultivate a good workplace atmosphere and encourage good team dynamics is to get out of the office for a fun, off-the-wall meeting.

A change of scenery takes people out of their work mindsets and opens them up to different perspectives. When team members leave the office, they’re less likely to be distracted by calls, emails, and other appointments. If they can’t sneak back to their desks, employees can focus fully on the activity and prioritize socializing. Plus, holding a meeting at a unique venue can challenge employees to try new things, build new skills, and relate to one another in new ways. Relying on a co-worker while you rock climb or flip into a foam pit is a much different form of team building than a conversation in the conference room.

Out-of-Office Fun Equals In-Office Wins

The benefits of hosting a fun office outing are far-reaching. It can improve the way your employees feel about work and one another, which will have positive implications for your day-to-day operations and long-term business objectives. A cohesive and happy team doesn’t just mean a more enjoyable work environment; it also makes solid financial sense. Specific benefits include:

  • Increased employee happiness. Employee happiness is a key component of employee performance. When people feel positively about their work and employer, they are more likely to be productive and successful and less likely to take sick days or feel burnout. In short, happy employees are better employees.
  • Increased employee loyalty. Promoting culture through an outing improves employee satisfaction, making them less likely to bolt for other opportunities. Why does this matter? Replacing an entry-level employee typically costs 30 to 50 percent of his annual salary, whereas replacing a high-level employee may cost up to 400 percent of her annual salary.
  • Enhanced work-life balance. The second most common reason people leave their jobs is a lack of work-life balance. Holding unique, fun off-site meetings helps to reduce stress and mix a little fun into work, helping employees feel more balanced and in control of their working life.
  • Stronger team dynamics. The opportunity to get out of the office encourages people to break out of their regular habits. A setting that opens up a team to a new experience can foster better communication and collaboration, which improves team relationships.

Location, Location, Location

While the goal of a traditional meeting might be to solve a problem or discuss a project, your objective for an off-site outing should be to provide a casual opportunity for colleagues to bond on a more personal level. People won’t be able to let down barriers and connect unless they’re relaxed and having fun.

The location of your outing should be strategic. Consider your company’s culture: Would something free-form work? Or would your team be more comfortable with a little structure? What kind of activities are your employees interested in? You’ll also need to settle on an objective for the meeting. Is the goal to simply have fun as a team? Or are you wanting to inject some business into the day, too?

Start by searching for fun things to do in your area. If your average employee is younger and energetic and you want to provide a fun afternoon outing, try a trampoline park or theme park. It’s hard not to have a great time jumping on trampolines or riding rollercoasters — these are usually big crowd-pleasing activities, and both locations easily allow time for team-building activities. Plus, you can always talk business while employees are bused to and from the park.

Other excellent options to get your employees engaged and having fun is to do a group dinner theater or escape room challenge. Working together to solve a murder mystery or beat an escape game fosters collaboration. These activities can also reveal a lot about individuals’ strengths and how the team works together.

Consider taking the team outdoors. Rock climbing, kayaking, and canoeing require a high level of trust, which helps your employees build strong bonds. If something less adrenaline-centric is needed, consider a hike or educational activity at a local botanical garden.

Whatever off-the-wall location you select for your out-of-office meeting, it’s sure to be a valuable investment in your people and your business. Fostering strong relationships, creating an engaging culture, and helping your employees have a little fun can only lead to good things: happy employees who are excited to come into the office and work hard as a team every day.