Measuring the unmeasurable: the value of Château Clarity

Château Clarity: our 2016 offsite venue

In November, every team member (bar one, unfortunately), from all three Clarity offices, downed tools for three working days and convened in a Château in rural France.

The costs associated with transatlantic flights, taking-over a Château, food and drinks, a motivational speaker and many other incidental things besides were very considerable. When combined with the opportunity cost of 30 members of staff only being semi-productive for half a week, the actual cost to the company was in excess of £100k. You could take the view that this took a huge chunk off our bottom line.

As a business that’s never sought any investment, every significant spend demands significant scrutiny. We need to be able to demonstrate a clear and meaningful return-on-investment.

So how do you measure whether the offsite delivered a return? What metrics can you apply to an activity that’s so multifaceted, with benefits that are so intangible? Is it enough to say “everyone had a great time, it was great for morale and people are probably better friends as a result”?

Ultimately with any culture-improving initiative the only metric that matters is staff churn. And that’s declined significantly in 2016 – to under industry averages. But could we achieve the same results whilst being more fiscally conservative?

I’m don’t have the answer, but I am absolutely convinced that the annual Clarity offsite (this was our second) is a tradition worth continuing despite the costs, for the following reasons:

  • Going away with your colleagues to an amazing Château in Normandy is cool and fun. I hope and believe it made our current employees feel valued and that they enjoyed it. Anecdotal feedback seems to indicate this is the case.
  • The opportunity to travel is a big selling point for Clarity when it comes to recruitment. The fact that this is something we have a history of doing is a compelling aspect of our employer brand, at a time when talent acquisition is increasingly challenging.
  • As a geographically disparate company, with account teams split across several offices, physically bringing people together is vital. For me once a year is actually insufficient. No amount of technology or video conferencing can replace the relationship-building value of spending time with someone in-person.
  • A change in environment and a shift of gears, is a powerful catalyst for enabling people to express their true personalities, which breaks-down our professional veneers and supports the process of more meaningful relationship-building.
  • By promoting relationship-building, I believe our team – and its constituent teams – are more cohesive, more productive and more effective. In intangible, unmeasurable ways, I’m confident our business will perform better and we’ll deliver a higher quality of service to our clients. It will therefore have a positive impact on our bottom line. It’s an investment, not a cost.

About the author

Sami McCabe

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By Sami McCabe

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I'm Sami: founder & CEO of Clarity PR and occasional angel investor. I blog here about entrepreneurship, leadership, building great company cultures, angel investing, fatherhood and personal development.

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