What Is an Executive Retreat?

Mary McMahon

An executive retreat is an organized event typically allowing people to engage in team building, information exchange, and other activities that may benefit workplace performance. Retreats usually take place away from the workplace to allow people to break out of their usual routines. They can include executives from a specific company or professional organization, or may be open to anyone who wishes to join. Numerous sites host retreats year-round and can provide a variety of services including planned and facilitated events or basic location rental with a retreat organized by the clients themselves.

Some executive retreats focus on stress-reducing activities like yoga and meditation.
Some executive retreats focus on stress-reducing activities like yoga and meditation.

Hotels, camps, and other facilities with lodging and dining are common settings for executive retreats. These create an immersive experience for attendees. When they are not at formal meetings and group sessions, they can interact with each other in casual settings. If there is a heavy emphasis on team building, people may be assigned roommates or group bunk rooms to encourage them to make connections.

Brainstorming activities may be part of an executive retreat.
Brainstorming activities may be part of an executive retreat.

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Organized activities at an executive retreat can depend on the reason for the event. Some are intended to help people reduce stress and learn to manage time and priorities more effectively. They might include yoga, meditation, and other stress-relieving activities along with seminars on time management. Others foster team building and group cohesion, in which case groups may solve puzzles, play games, and engage in other group activities. The connections forged at the executive retreat can be carried back to the workplace to work together more smoothly and effectively.

Working retreats provide an environment where people can conduct business without day to day strains. An executive retreat may be held for a product development push, brainstorming measure, or similar activity, where attendees work together on a major project. People can also use an executive retreat for training and networking. They may exchange advice and information, discuss business practices, and connect with people who might be valuable additions to a team.

Facilitated retreats can be coordinated by a retreat center or specialty company that handles all the arrangements. This can have some advantages, as attendees do not need to consider logistics and don’t need to assign one of their member to handle issues and participate in the retreat at the same time. Some facilities specialize in executive retreats and may have an array of packages available, including recommendations for facilitators if their products do not quite meet the need of prospective attendees. Individual executives can also seek out general group sessions for professional development if they feel a retreat would be beneficial but their workplaces don’t have one planned.

Executive retreats may feature team-building activities.
Executive retreats may feature team-building activities.

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