Summer Retreat Outside Yellowstone National Park
Paddleboards, SWOT analysis, barbeques, Business Walrus*, yard games, oh, and badass coworkers… the TOMIS 2022 Summer Retreat.
In late June, 23 employees headed off to West Yellowstone for three days. Bi-annually, TOMIS sets aside a few weekdays for employees to reset in a new location for team building, organized fun-filled activities, relaxation, and time to discuss strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and general business development. This time allows employees to enjoy interactions outside of the office environment and develop personal relationships with coworkers, in turn fostering more productive professional relationships and sparking motivation.
3 Days in Island Park, Idaho
Management Day – The TOMIS management team spent the day discussing financials, general business operations, team development opportunities, and TOMIS growth. This management day is vital to unpacking the last year’s learnings and prioritizing our future growth initiatives.
Day 1 – Fun on the river, onewheel lessons, paddleboard races, hot tubbing, slacklining, card games, music, and a good old fashioned BBQ. After all, we are our clients’ clients, we work hard & play hard!
Day 2 – ½ day SWOT analysis, river activities, charcuterie boards, bear sightings, an employee-created competitive game, swimming, end-of-the-day highs and lows, and homemade meals.
- The TOMIS SWOT analysis is a practice performed every summer retreat by the entire company. Broken into small groups of employees from all sides of the business, the morning is spent brainstorming strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This activity aims to create company-wide awareness of all the factors associated with TOMIS’s operations. From leveraging strengths and opportunities to addressing weaknesses and threats, it creates a space for everyone to be heard, discover new initiatives, improve internal practices and strategies, and so forth.
The Value in TOMIS Retreats
Time and time again, TOMIS retreats have proven to be a success. When Monday rolls around, 15Five* check-in pulse rates are through the roof, kudos are pouring in, and motivation is high. Meetings are scheduled to hit the ground running with deliverables set out in the SWOT analysis. After transferring our handwritten collaborative notes to informative slide decks, the collective SWOT analysis findings and action items are shared with the team during our BizOps* meetings. Task forces that leverage individual employee strengths are created to tackle our newly outlined priorities for the following year. The task force meetings provide additional opportunities to ensure employee feedback is put into action.
Also addressed are the previous year’s SWOT deliverables. In doing so, employees new and old can see the progress the company has made together over the last year. Numerous objectives have improved or have been addressed and the results are rewarding and aid in forward-thinking. Initiatives that have come from previous SWOT analysis include, but are not limited to: Unlimited PTO, updating onboarding chapters (data analysis), more consistent internal collaboration, improving chatbot build and maintenance processes, and so on.
As a company who values feedback, with the value #continuouslyimprove, we surveyed the team after the retreat. Below are some highlights from TOMIS employees:*
“As a newcomer, it was so much fun! I loved hanging by the river and playing all the games. Everyone made me feel welcome and included. “ -Cora Gavin
“I really appreciate the TOMIS Retreats. It is so nice getting to know people you work with outside of the work environment. People are what make a community and the retreats really highlight that this work place has built & maintained a community. The rawness and transparency shown by all employees, but particularly by our CEO, during our SWOT analysis is something I will never take for granted and sets the bar really high for any future companies/leadership teams I am a part of. I walk away loving my job more and more after every retreat.” – Ellen Sliwinski
“I enjoyed having time away from work to be able to connect with team members I didn’t previously know or didn’t know well. It’s easy to get stuck in the grind of the day-to-day work, and it was a nice reprieve to have everyone together in a fun setting. I enjoyed the SWOT analysis and look forward to learning more in the Company-wide All Hands* meeting, especially as it pertains to TOMIS’ plans for scaling, changes to company structure to sustain the growth, etc.” – Meghan Nolt
“I really enjoy the SWOT analysis and hearing the perspectives from all sides of the business. It was a perfect mixture of work and fun. I felt like I was able to get to know people that I hadn’t had much interaction with and really enjoyed myself. Best part was murder in the dark and the performances in Business Walrus!” – Hallie Widner
We are proud to have built a company culture that creates such memorable and enjoyable retreats, creates valuable conversations for business development, and establishes transparency across the board.
*Business Walrus – A game where individuals/groups compete to create products to win billions of dollars from the wealthy and powerful investor: the Business Walrus. Consisting of a deck of cards with vague text that prompt answers from the players, the game challenges players to pitch their inventions out-loud. Cards include asks which require participants to create a product aligning with the requirement as well as must-haves, which produce quite creative and unique inventions. Additional cards include twists such as requiring the players to sing a jingle for their product or present in an angry manner.
*15Five – A performance management platform intended to improve manager effectiveness, encourage engagement and performance, and increase employee satisfaction
*All Hands Meetings – quarterly meetings prepared by our CEO and department-heads with updates regarding goals, learning lessons, three months worth of internal updates, and employee recognition.
*BizOps – TOMIS Bi-monthly internal meetings addressing updates from all departments.