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Integration trip that is, how to combine business with pleasure

Days before and after holiday that is late spring and early autumn, a period which is for many companies abundant in integration trips for employees. HR departments or other persons responsible for organisation of the company’s events have a lot of work to do searching for the best destination, organising activities for the group, suggesting an interesting evening event.

A lot of companies, especially the biggest ones, do not organise such events on their own, but outsource the services and hire specialists of the event companies who help in the organization in some part or plan the whole event and then execute it. Using specialists’ assistance is useful when there is no good idea in the company to make use of the trip, so that it would both integrate people and help to build the team and company identity, and, at the same time, be nice, pleasant and relaxing for the participants.

The aspiration of the trip organisers is not to repeat the ideas year by year and e.g. not to offer a paintball game every year. They face a big challenge as the years go by. The first important step we have to take is to select a resort we are going to visit. Before making a decision, it is always useful to conduct the site inspection as the offer found in the Internet quite often differs from the reality. Another important choice is to plan the leisure time for the participants of the trip.

When planning the company trip, it is worth asking what we actually want to reach, what our goal is. Training integration meetings are one of the ideas. Here, great importance is attached to training, improving specific skills. Training on such trips are usually so-called interpersonal skills training e.g. anti-stress, interpersonal communication, teamwork, creativity training. Many of these training sessions can be extremely attractive and conducted in an amusing and interactive way e.g. based on specific tasks: building a raft to sail across the lake, preparing a stage performance, thinking up a creative game for employees of the company. A little bit of theory provided by a good, experienced coach, brainstorming, drawing conclusion altogether − and here we have a recipe for a pleasant and useful training.

No matter what we planned for the leisure time (training, teambuilding, excursion etc.), an inseparable part of every trip is the evening party in the form of a special dinner, a disco party or themed evening.

This is usually one of the most awaited and the least formalised part of the trip. Organisers have to deal with very important issues like the form of the party: a banquet with evening dresses or e.g. crazy 70’s evening. Another key issue is the alcohol. Here, we can earlier hand out vouchers for drinks (once you uses them all up, you pay out of your own pocket for the rest of alcohol) or provide an open bar with or without a limit or e.g. only wine and beer option etc.

One thing is for sure: beginning all activities of the second day should be planned for later and definitely less intensively than on the first day. Benefit from training the day after the party is much smaller than the day before it, because the productivity of participants is definitely lower. One should keep that in mind and give the employees time to get enough sleep and regain their strength before taking any tasks.

This part of the integration trip is undoubtedly of pleasure and beneficial for the fact that e.g. it is a perfect chance to establish non-corporate relations, get to know something private about our work colleagues, meet the superiors in informal situations, talk to persons we usually do not work with on a daily basis. Such relations often have a positive effect on a working atmosphere as well as improvement in professional relations.

Another idea for a trip are various sports – teambuilding – activities. They usually aim at: building the team, learning to work as a team, showing team roles, Company communication improvement. They are often based on a competition between teams or individuals. The most popular activities are outdoor games. During the game the competing teams search for specific points, complete the tasks e.g. seek for a treasure with the map in hand, and on the way collect points for their team for different activities.

Another form of sports activities can be different extreme disciplines such as: ropes course, military equipment riding, paintball, rafting etc.

Completely different idea are relaxing trips. Here, for a change, we do not increase participants’ adrenaline, but rather try to calm and relax them. This type of trips does not meet the integrative, teambuilding goals, yet are very popular within the employees. They appreciate the well-deserved moment of relaxation after everyday routine and hard work.

As far as relax is concerned, we may suggest e.g. a sightseeing tour or relaxation activities.

In the leisure time, we offer the group e.g. sightseeing the local attractions, such as: castles, museums, objects being the pride of the region, e.g. breweries, mines, bakeries, chocolate factories etc. The essential condition is, of course, the surroundings which with attractions worth seeing and a good tour guide to show around.

We usually organise the relaxation trip in places like spa. Here, we give employees the opportunity to use leisure time and the place’s resources like: swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, baths etc. The additional sponsored by the company attraction, very much appreciated by employees, are the beauty-relaxing treatments: massages, mud baths, face masks etc. This type of trips are best for smaller groups e.g. as an incentive for a specific team.

The above ideas are only examples of how to make use of the trip and spend company money well. However, before the organisers make specific decisions as for the type of event, it is worthwhile asking employees about their expectations. You can conduct a brief survey addressed to the entire company, in which we can ask i.e. about the employees’ preferences:

  • length of the trip (e.g. 1, 2, 3 nights);
  • distance from the company (close or definitely far away);
  • forms of leisure activities;
  • themed evening (e.g. ball, Wild West, casino, witches, pirates);
  • preferred music (e.g. club, 70’s & 80’s, DJ or live music);
  • etc.

While after the trip, it is useful to conduct the evaluation survey. This will give us the feedback at once, what was done well, and what should be changed next time.

One should take into account that even if we organise the trip according to the wishes of the majority of employees, there will always be a few malcontents complaining about the room, food, traffic on the way, DJ and hundred other things. It is a truth which, sooner or later, every organiser will encounter. The best way not to make things warm for oneself with such whining individuals is to remain calm and unaffected and stop taking everything we hear to our heart.

When organising the integration trip it is very important not ‘to overload’ the schedule with too many tasks and attractions. Running from one to another point of the agenda: lunch – meeting, hike in the forest − meeting, quad riding – meeting, campfire – meeting etc. may cause dislike and resistance of the employees, and in consequence lead to the adverse effect.

Apart from the objectives we set when organising the company trip, we also need to select the target group, duration of the trip, organisational capacity and of course the budget. Extremely valuable is knowledge concerning our work colleagues, what they like, whether they easily get absorbed in a game, what can be attractive to them. That which works in one company, can turn out to be a completely bad idea in the other one. It is worthwhile seeking knowledge among the most experienced employees, asking them what, in their opinion, worked well in the past, what are their remarks, what type of company events have they participated in so far.

With good intentions, a bit of imagination and engagement, one certainly will manage to organize an unforgettable trip. And as the above examples show there are plenty of possibilities and ideas.

 

Marta Prokopek-Pyśk