Year-end staff retreats: Short sojourns and staycations

As businesses look to wind down a challenging 2017, how can they give their employees an end-of-year breather without breaking the bank?

Chatri Sityodtong, founder of mixed martial arts company Evolve, swears by a relatively simple philosophy, which is ingrained throughout his organisation.

“We work hard, and also play hard,” he says.

“Our annual vacations at Evolve is a time to ‘play hard’ for all of us.”

Just as Evolve is rapidly growing to now be of the world’s largest martial arts entities, the organisation has also been making waves for its extremely generous company retreats.

In 2016, Sityodtong garnered global attention after whisking off 100 of his employees for a surprise luxury retreat to the Maldives in recognition of the organisation’s meteoric corporate rise.

The Evolve boss had also previously organised company retreats to the likes of Bali and Bintan in Indonesia.

“I take my team on an annual vacation at a five-star resort as a small token of my gratitude and appreciation for their hard work,” he says.

“I feel that my gesture would not be sincere if we had to work on these trips. I want my team to relax, have a blast, and create amazing memories together.”

For some, the retreat to the Maldives was a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. For example, a husband and wife who serve as housekeepers at Evolve’s Orchard Central mixed martial arts branch flew on a plane for the very first time in their lives.

A short sojourn

Although company performance is a factor when planning year-end employee rewards, most organisations do set aside a budget to craft meaningful, engaging and ultimately fun retreats and activities for employees across the board.

Of course, not every business can afford the six figure budget that Evolve sets aside to fly employees to exotic locations, but short trips to nearby places are increasingly gaining prominence in the employee-rewards landscape.

For instance, Montigo Resorts in Batam island, Indonesia, is fast-emerging as a popular, cost-effective destination for organisations.

Located just half an hour away from Singapore by ferry, Montigo Resorts is an ideal destination for employees to escape the hustle and bustle city lifestyle and to relax and unwind and recharge their batteries.

Von Go, Area General Manager of Montigo Resorts, says guests who visit in a personal capacity often propose the place as an ideal choice for employee-related incentives and rewards to their bosses.

With its value-for-money packages and attractive value proposition to organisations, Go says Montigo’s in-house team can also tailor rewards programmes to varying budgets and needs, including an often-requested desire to infuse teambuilding-related activities during the trip.

“Corporates are also increasingly comparing offerings in terms of destination, packages, and value-added services; hence, it is even more critical for resorts to sharpen their niche and product offerings to remain ahead of the curve,” says Go.

Rise of staycations

Another option that is increasingly appealing to organisations is the use of “staycations” – short-stay holidays in the same city as the team resides in.

With staycations growing in popularity across Southeast Asia, particularly in Singapore, companies are now tapping onto it as a means of rewarding employees for their hard work and application.

Staff do not need to travel overseas but are able to indulge in the suite of facilities afforded to them.

The staycation option for rewarding employees is epitomised by the fact that a rising proportion of businesses – both big and small – are partnering with hotels to draw up rewards and incentive packages for their staff.

Traditional teambuilding

For organisations that prefer a more traditional employee rewards package, one that focuses on more collective aspects such as teambuilding, an ideal location for a day-trip from Singapore could be Focus Adventure, located on Sentosa Island.

Companies can engage in a myriad of fun and thought-provoking teambuilding activities offered by Focus Adventure such as the rafting challenge, scaling high elements, the incredible race challenge and even LEGO Serious Play.

All these activities have been strategically crafted to build qualities such as leadership, employee bonding, teamwork and fortitude- traits that are crucial for developing a vibrant and dynamic workforce.  

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