Corporate Getaways: Great Ideas for Employee Bonding

Oct 20, 2014

Executrade Building

In the mid-80s, there was a shift in corporate culture. On-site daycare, nap areas, mini-bars and pingpong tables began to seep into the business sector as the successes of the dot-com philosophy became known. The basic principle was simple—leadership and social interaction go hand-in-hand. Corporate getaways and team building retreats are not new, dating back to the 1920s, but the opportunities and strategies have become plentiful. The new goals surpass simple social interplay and have included therapeutic interventions, communication development, and esteem building, all in a framework of fun.

Drum Circle

Drum circles have been the staple of corporate retreat activities for years. Microsoft, Google, and Starbucks have all used drum circles and tribal dance as one of their bonding resources. Research into this form of business bonding activity shows that its effectiveness lies in is non-hierarchical nature. When drumming, the participant falls into a rhythm, requiring no instruction or communication that lends itself to positive emotions. This active, positive state is what positive psychologists call the flow. Being in the flow has been associated with self-efficacy which is one of the primary goals of corporate retreats. If an employee comes away feeling empowered then the experience was a success.


Canada has more than 30,000 lakes, including five out of the 10 biggest in the world. It makes sense that boating and lake related activities are some of the most common for corporate retreats. Boating is a relaxing and fun activity, but it can lead to inequality between the pilot and the crew. To make the activity a team building one, have the participants earn their boating license. In Canada, a boating license is called the Pleasure Craft Operator Card and requires an exam. By mixing the coursework with the recreational fun, the participants bond over a common goal and come away with a tangible, lifelong skill.


The perfect mix of outdoor fun, therapeutic insight and team building activities, ropes courses are specific to goal-oriented team development. They have specially designed activities to encourage organizational growth and development business communication skills. The depth of insight gained in a ropes course is scalable, depending on the skill of the facilitator. A business can select communication activities like the one where blindfolded team members navigate the woods, never letting go of a rope. Other processes include climbing a tall tree, while safely harnessed, which may trigger fear in some team members. These ropes games are created to allow each person the opportunity for insight into how and why he interacts with others.

Group Therapy

For the company that is serious about creating a strong corporate environment, there is group therapy. Whereas other retreats cushion the activities as a fun thing that you might get something from, therapy starts with the premise that everyone needs to work toward a common goal and the best way to do this is to talk it out. There are various modalities to do this. Some will combine it with a ropes course, equine therapy, or surfing activities. Others run the program from a big room and use wiffle bats to let out aggression. If you are looking for something unique that your employees will not forget, this is the way to go.