Let’s see, for some, it is that one annual picnic where employees are out of office to just have some fun – an employee engagement session of sorts. For others, it is a gathering where you get a day with the leadership team and know them a little better. Irrespective of what you choose to call it, let’s go with the term ‘off-site’. That one event that every HR Team really needs to get right. Yes, it can be a logistic nightmare and yes, preferences do need to be taken into consideration. But hey! Don’t you worry HR. That’s what we are here for. To bust a few common myths that surround off-sites. In other words, myth bubbles that you need to burst and come to terms with, right away!
Myth 1: What’s the real agenda!?
While a lot of off-sites are about having a good time, we all know that business discussions do take place in such gatherings. There is always an agenda and guess what? Employees know. As the HR team, or if you are in HR consulting you need to be able to draw a fine balance to ensure both aspects are given the right amount of attention. Here’s a chance for employees to have some candid chats about life at work and you need to be open to their ideas. But then, why would you make people travel in a flight from all over the country, put them up in a nice hotel and then get them together in a conference room for three days? Instead, consider this. If the agenda is to talk business, book the nearest conference room. But if you want them to bond and have fun, don’t stuff them in one!
Myth 2: Does senior management really need to be there? When?
It’s not like employees are going to really walk up to them and catch up about their lives. All they want is a good time. Ya?
Yes, corporate hierarchy does exist and a one-day off-site isn’t going to break these barriers completely. However, as HR, the least you can do is to give your employees a platform where they are given an opportunity to interact with one another and more so with senior management. Not only will this create a sense of ownership, this also builds the right kind of credibility to you and the talent management team.
But then I have the budget. Senior management is free. Let’s have one just before goal-setting period.
There are no fixed indicators which tell you, “HR! Do an off-site. ASAP.” Instead, be receptive to the changes in the organization. Find out how the different teams are performing. Planning your off-sites on factors that truly matter to the employees is the key to making sure everyone willingly participates and benefits from the off-site, and to ultimately getting staff management right.
Myth 3: An offsite has to deliver results! Right Now!
Here’s the thing. An offsite with a clear agenda does deliver. But it is not like preparing ‘instant noodles’. Can you seriously expect every single person to be happy with their new improved sales targets because you served up some great booze and food? Or because you took them to an exotic location and left them in a theme park? Hello!? It’s not like their targets are going away. Plus, results derived from offsites cannot be quantified overnight. There are always going to be people who will find meaning in what you do while others will take time to see the overall picture. Building the right perception is the best you can do. And once you are back from your trip, make sure you follow-up. Take key learnings and bring those into the workplace. That’s when you know things are working.
Myth 4: We have off-sites regularly. That’s enough to sustain employee engagement levels in my company.
Yes, having off-sites is important as they come with a range of benefits. However, this isn’t enough, as the HR team, to believe that this will positively impact employee engagement over a sustained period. Other elements such as having people-friendly policies, an approachable senior management, a fair reward policy and a work culture that makes people want to come to office everyday [post the offsite] is what one needs to focus on.
Wondering how? Say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org !