Help! My company's team-building retreats are ruining my life

Ask the Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all of your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email [email protected]

Dear Insider,

I work at a startup and I love it — the people are great and there are a lot of cool perks. Free food, free snacks, free booze, cool trips — in fact, lots of cool trips and events.

But I’ve been finding that these cool “bonding” and “team building” trips are starting to become too frequent. I don’t want to be the odd one out who doesn’t go to the beach house (I definitely don’t want to be left out), but there’s starting to be no line between my work life and my personal life. I’m not saying I don’t like hanging out with them, but I have a boyfriend, friends, and family.

These “perks” are so much a part of our company’s culture that I’m worried I’ll seem like I’m no longer a cultural fit if I turn down any of these events, but my life is starting to suffer. I love my job and don’t want to lose it, but I also don’t want to grow apart from my boyfriend and friends.


No Work-Life Balance


Dear Work-Life Balance,

Your dilemma is an increasingly common one, as evidenced by this recent article in the Wall Street Journal which asks, “how many team-building hiking trips can your marriage take?”

I don’t see a way out of the team-building retreats unless you have a major conflict (like a family wedding). If you want to stay at the company, you’re going to have to accept that this is part of the job. Consistently not going would probably result in your coworkers thinking you aren’t invested.

If the retreats are a deal breaker for you, it’s probably time to think about new opportunities.

There are a couple of ways you can feel less stressed in the day-to-day, however.

Start by taking stock of your day-to-day and cutting where you can. Are you doing daily happy hours? Nightly dinners? Don’t be afraid to scale back on these.

Your coworkers shouldn’t be offended if you say “I have plans tonight so I’m sitting this one out.” If anything, making yourself a little scarce will help them appreciate your company even more. You’ll feel more recharged and will work harder after skipping happy hour.


Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all of your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to [email protected] for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.

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