Redmond is unusual in many ways, and one of those ways is that we put on a lot of retreats. And we mean a lot. As in, upwards of 10 per year!
These retreats aren’t just for upper management or as incentives for meeting sales quotas. They’re actually available (and even required) for ALL full-time associates, whether they work in accounting, production, marketing, business development, or whatever.
These retreats are for everyone because we see them as a crucial way to develop our people, strengthen our teams, grow our company, and elevate the human experience.
First, what is a Redmond retreat like?
“Retreat” can mean a lot of things in a company context, so what do we mean when we say “retreat?” What is a Redmond retreat even like?
We regularly hold retreats at Lake Powell and in Heber Valley. We’ve also had retreats in Alaska at Pybus Point Lodge; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Kona, Hawaii; St. George or Irvins, Utah, Utah; and lots more.
Regardless of the location, our retreats always follow the same rough structure: We begin our days with a nourishing breakfast followed by a “culture discussion.” This involves watching a thought-provoking video (often Ted Talks) that presents an idea we’ve found helpful, and then we discuss our ideas around that topic. After that, we spend the day having fun together. This is where the location really shines!
On a Lake Powell retreat, we might go tubing or surfing, hike, golf, kayak, paddleboard, or tour the nearby dam.
At our Mountain Retreat in Heber Valley, guests might go hiking, ziplining, horseback riding, riding ATVs, etc.
In other locations, we may go snorkeling, parasailing, hiking, or whatever the area has to offer!
Guests also have the option to spend time back at their lodging and get massages, do crafts, or enjoy whatever the venue has to offer!
In the evening, we come back together for a healthy dinner (often sourced from our farm and health food store), followed by another culture discussion.
After the final discussion, we eat ice cream and play games (and win prizes!).
Retreats typically last 3-5 days, depending on the location.
These retreats are tons of fun! They also represent a LOT of work and money, but we see this as a valuable investment.
Why We Invest In Retreats
To introduce new associates to our language and culture
Each new associate is encouraged to attend a retreat in their first year (typically the Lake Powell or Mountain Retreat).
We do this because it immerses them in our culture. Sure, our culture’s infused in everything we do, but it’s easy to miss a lot of it when you’re wrapped up in day-to-day tasks.
This is so important for showing associates what Redmond is all about: Elevating the human experience. It introduces them to our mission and core values, and other ideas that are central to our culture. This foundation sets them up for growth and success at Redmond, and in every area of their life.
It’s also handy to introduce associates to our language because let’s face it, we use jargon a lot. We can’t just throw around terms like “occhiolism,” “ubuntu,” or even “super chickens” without taking the time to show associates what we mean!
Retreats open our minds
The change of pace and location has a way of opening our minds to new ways of thinking!
Retreats allow us to get out of the everyday. We might associate with people we might not normally hang out with. We might think of things we’ve never thought of before. Most importantly, retreats give us the space to focus on improving ourselves and connecting with others.
When we’re home with all our responsibilities, it’s easy for new ideas to go in one ear and out the other. But when we’re away from all that, we have the capacity to think more deeply and the willingness to try something new.
To form strong bonds
Another advantage of retreats is the relationships we form when people from different areas of the company come together to learn and have fun!
We invite associates (and often their spouses) from all our different business units to these retreats, including our fencing companies in Colorado, Idaho, and Hawaii, and our associates all over Utah. These associates might not meet, otherwise!
There’s also something about having fun with others that helps you see them clearly. You’ll get to know someone on a whole other level when you enjoy a hike together or see them screaming down a zipline.
When you know who someone really is, you can see them more clearly. You’re able to be so much more effective as a team. Once the retreat is over, these bonds make work so much more fun and fulfilling because you’re working with friends, not just coworkers. This unifies us as a company, even across locations and business units!
To develop our associates as people
We want our people to grow. It’s the first part of our mission statement: “We want to live in a world where people are eager for self-discovery. When those intentional and aware individuals come together to form exceptional teams.”
We think the world will be a better place when we understand ourselves and each other, when we know how to have conversations (especially difficult ones), when we can see things from others’ perspectives, when we know how to share what we’re seeing, and when we become self-aware.
This is why we emphasize this in our culture. We are helping each other become self-aware to make the company (and the world) better for everyone.
Intensity and growth
Anyone who’s improved any area of their life knows you need two ingredients for growth: consistency and intensity.
What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while, for the most part.
If you’re getting stronger, you need to work out consistently. If you’re learning piano, you need to practice consistently.
But intensity is also important. You need to work out intensely enough that your muscle fibers can actually tear and grow back stronger. You need to practice piano long enough and challenge yourself enough to grow and perform well at your first recital!
An occasional concentrated challenge can also do wonders for your personal growth! This is why we do retreats: to impart big ideas and changes that associates can then consistently implement. It’s like a jumpstart on big change, and it can show associates what’s possible for them. It gives them a taste of what we mean by “body, heart, mind, and spirit.” It’s not what we do every day, but how cool would it be if your regular work day was as elevating as going to Lake Powell?!
If our regular culture meetings are consistency, these retreats represent intensity. Taking a few days to focus on growth can give birth to a lot of “aha!” moments, while consistency can help you evolve and make these new concepts second nature.
We want to fill associates’ cups
These retreats aren’t meant to be vacations or rewards. We do want them to be fun, but they’re so much more than that. We want to elevate the human experience. We want these retreats to be unforgettable.
These retreats give our associates the chance to do things they might not have thought to try before or do things they wouldn’t get to do otherwise.
Many of our Hawaiian associates who attend the Mountain Retreat have never seen snow before. Many associates have “firsts” on these retreats, like their first time riding a horse, getting a massage, or waterskiing. Many cross items off their bucket lists.
This is more than just a good time that lasts a day. We want to create memories that last a lifetime and experiences that resonate long after the retreat is over.
Here are some amazing things our associates have said about retreats:
“I’ve been able to deepen relationships with…my coworkers in a way I might not have gotten to otherwise.”
“The videos actually helped me to get out of myself and look at things as a “we” and how we can make things better. To step outside and figure out solutions together.”
“I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years, and I’ve never felt as appreciated and valued as I do here. Their message has been “Everyone matters, everyone has a place, everyone has something to offer, something to contribute.” That’s been very empowering.”
Elevating the Human Experience
Yes, these retreats are fun, and we love treating our associates to something amazing, but they’re so much more than vacations.
These are meant to nourish our souls, help us grow, improve our relationships, and make our work more fulfilling.
Yes, these retreats help us grow as a company. Believe it or not, it does make financial sense for us to do this, because we do see a return on our investment. But money is just the gas in the car that gets us to our goal of making the world and the experience of work better for everyone.
It all goes back to elevating the human experience, one associate and one family at a time!