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Hosting, Retreats, and Teambuilding

1. Purpose

The University can pay for appropriate teambuilding experiences, retreats, and common business courtesies that involve the provision of refreshments (snacks) or meals to employees of the university. This policy defines the parameters within which University funds may be used to pay for reasonable hosting, retreats, and teambuilding activities.

2. Policy

Subject to budgetary constraints and the parameters established by this policy, department heads may allocate funds for payment of the cost of hosting, retreats and other teambuilding activities for employees and guests of the University.

3. Implementation


The following terms (Capitalized hereafter in the text) have the specific definitions given.

3.1.1 Hosting

Extension of common business courtesies, including providing meals to guests of the university or in the conduct of official University business with persons who are not employees is appropriate.

3.1.2 Meals

A catered or restaurant provided breakfast, lunch, or dinner for employees or other individuals while engaged in the conduct of substantial and bona fide university business.

3.1.3 Refreshments

Bottled water, juice, soda, hors d’oeuvres, food items such as pastries, fruit, chips, cookies, cake, and other light refreshments.

3.1.4 Retreat

A shared experience away from the workplace that facilitates work team conversation about strategic directions, plans, and process improvements or to provide practical training in concepts, methods, and tools intended to increase unit effectiveness and productivity.

3.1.5 Social Activity

Informal work site gatherings held to recognize personal or group milestones and encourage friendliness among the members of a work team.

3.1.6 Teambuilding

Structured activities involving the members of a work team designed to enable experiential learning about trust, communication, creativity, and cooperation that will carry over into the workplace.

3.1.7 Work Team

A group of employees operating in the same location and having frequent interactions with one another to accomplish assignments that depend on their collective efforts.

3.1.8 Excessive Meals and Refreshments

Meals or refreshments are deemed to be excessive when they become a regular (more than once a month) occurrence for employees for the sake of providing a meal when a meeting occurs.

3.1.9 Excessive Gratuity

Tips exceeding 20% of the bill total are not allowed. Employees wishing to tip beyond 20% limitation may use their own funds to do so.


The cost of hosting may be paid or reimbursed from university funds. By way of illustration and not limitation, hosting events could include entertaining a visiting lecturer, a potential donor, a prospective employee, or other official guests of the university; this may also include a guest(s) of the person being hosted/recruited by the university. University funds may be used to pay for a guest or spouse of the hosting employee provided there is a business purpose. Any request to use University funds for hosting purposes must include an explanation of the business purpose. Employees may be asked to reimburse the university if the business purpose justification is inadequate. Any guest or spouse of a university employee acting in a hosting capacity for the university will be expected to abide by university policies and standards. Alcoholic beverages may not be provided at University expense in any setting on or off-campus.


It strongly preferred that campus personnel use BYUH Food Services when hosting visitors. However, if there are occasions when this is not practical, other food vendors may be used. Pounders Restaurant at the PCC and the Bistro at the Courtyard Marriott offer a 10% discount for BYU–Hawaii employees with a valid university ID card. Meals are subject to regular per diem amounts as defined by the IRS Meals and Incidentals Rate for the state of Hawaii. This can be found on the BYU Purchasing and Travel Website:


University managers may schedule a retreat or team building activity when deemed necessary to achieve the work team’s organizational development goals. These events must observe the following constraints:

3.3.1 Criteria

Attendance is mandatory and the agenda does not address routine, ongoing activities of the work team.

3.3.2 Allowable expenses

Allowable expenses include:

  • The reasonable cost of meals and refreshments
  • The production costs of handouts and training materials
  • Honoraria or facilitator fees
  • Rent or usage fees for purpose-built teambuilding facilities (requires cognizant vice president specific approval)


Planning for team building exercises and retreats must be accommodated to these limitations:

1. No Overnight Events

Teambuilding experiences and retreats must be contained within normal working hours. University resources may not be used to pay for overnight activities.

2. Frequency

Teambuilding experiences and work team retreats may only be scheduled once per calendar year.

3. Cost

The all-in cost of a team-building experience or retreat cannot exceed $50 per participant. Students and/or senior missionaries may be invited at the discretion of the dean or director. If students or senior missionaries attend, the $50 per participant applies.

4. Employee Compensation

All non-exempt employees will be paid for the time while in attendance at department retreat. Student employees will be paid for the number of hours they participate in the Retreat. If a dinner following the Retreat is provided, attendance is considered voluntary and will not be paid as time worked.


The University authorizes the use of university funds for employee social activities as follows:

3.4.1 University-Wide Social Events

The university may hold an annual dinner social for all its employees in appreciation for their service to the institution. This event may serve as the venue for presentation of awards or recognitions. Retired personnel and spouse/guest, as well as spouse of deceased employees may be invited.


In addition to the institution-wide socials, each academic or administrative unit is allowed to sponsor one dinner each year, if it is within the cost center’s budget. For academic units, this dinner should be in conjunction with graduation, unless no graduation dinner is sponsored. Student employees and senior missionaries may be invited to attend at the discretion of the dean or director. If invited,the amount of funds budgeted for the dinner is determined including these additional participants.

The amount the academic or administrative unit may spend from university-administered funds for all costs of the occasion (including meals, decorations, entertainment, etc.) is described below.

Approved Event: University Event Ho’omai’kai


  • Employees & spouse/guest.
  • Retiree & spouse/guest.
  • Spouse of deceased employee.

Budget: TBD by PC.

Approved Event: Academic/Admin Dinner


  • Employees.
  • Student employees and senior missionaries at the dean/director’s discretion.

Budget: Hawaii per diem X number of approved participants.

Approved Event: Retreat


  • All employees and missionaries.

Budget: $50 per participant.

Approved Event: Annual Party (e.g. Christmas)


  • Employees and spouse/guest

Budget: $30 per full/part-time employee and $30 per spouse/guest. The amount of funds budgeted for the dinner is determined including student employees and their spouse/guest) at the Dean/Director’s discretion.

Excluding the Ho’omai’kai, funds for these purposes are included in the budget of the unit involved. If the cost of the occasion exceeds the amount proscribed by the university, participants must pay the additional cost. Revenue-producing areas may use their funds for the annual dinner, but these units also must stay within the university dollar limitation. In addition to an annual retreat, departments may hold an annual party subject to the same dollar limitations noted above.


Refreshments (snacks) or meals may not be provided in conjunction with ordinary or recurring staff meetings lasting fewer than three hours. Refreshments of this nature are to be provided on a personal basis. However, if business necessity requires employees to meet during the lunch time period, the department head may authorize an exception. Judgment should be used to determine whether these expenses are reasonable and prudent as to the frequency and cost of such events. Departments must show on all invoices, receipts or other documents for such meals stating the “business purpose” and a list of those who attended. Certain circumstances may exist that warrant refreshments at a staff or workplace meeting, but must be done on a very infrequent basis.


In the context of a planned initiative to reinforce and promote attention to a work team’s priorities, values, and performance objectives, managers may use university funds to purchase gifts (e.g., pens, pins, desk accessories) with a value of less than $50.00. Receipt of such gifts must be linked to desired employee behavior and the stated purpose be documented. Approval must be obtained from the cognizant vice president. This type of activity is limited to an annual occurrence. University funds may not be used to provide cash or cash equivalents (i.e. gift cards, debit cards, credit cards, or gift certificates that are denominated in cash amounts instead of specific items of merchandise) to employees for any purpose.

Purchase of cash cards such as prepaid debit cards are not to be used as gifts at any time but may be used as laundry cards and for students’ entrepreneur projects or anything like it upon the approval of the purchasing card manager. A Cash Card Request Form must be submitted to Financial Services Purchasing prior to any cash card purchase. This request must include the business purpose and the amount of the cash card. It is also required that the cash card is reconciled to match the dollar amount purchased by submitting a report to Any unreconciled amount within two months of purchase must be reimbursed by the cardholder.

3.6.1 Welcome Baskets/Missionary Departures

Departments may choose to provide welcome baskets or gifts, up to a value of $25 to university guests, and new employees. The process for coordinating welcome baskets for missionaries will be coordinated by Human Resources. Departments may not provide additional welcome baskets for missionaries.

New employee welcome baskets or leis along with those for university guests, will be the responsibility of the receiving organization and must fall within the prices outlined in this policy. Exceptions must be approved by the cognizant vice president prior to the purchase of these items.

It is appropriate for senior missionary couples to be taken to dinner one evening as they complete their mission. Two additional meals (two department individuals or one individual from the department and their guest), along with the missionary couple, can be paid for using department funds.

3.6.2 Lei Giving/Special Occasions

Department general funds up to $25 may be used for purchase of a lei for university guests and ohana (family) for specific occasions. If a University purchasing card is used to purchase leis, the person(s) or group(s) receiving the lei, as well as the purpose or occasion must be indicated in the transaction receipt. Exceptions: commencement speakers and executive committee members may receive a reasonably priced special lei, costing up to $40. Departmental funds are not to be used to purchase treats, food items, gifts/leis for special occasions, such as terminations, retirements, farewells, birthdays, birth of children, weddings, boss’s/secretary day, remembrances, holidays, etc. Items for these occasions should be purchased from funds contributed by co-workers and friends.


The following general rules must be observed:

3.7.1 Food

All food sold and served at events will be governed by Food Services policies (see policy #GAOP004, Catering Food on Campus). Prepared food (i.e. pizza, sandwiches, plate lunches) may be obtained from local vendors and brought in by employees. Any on-campus event that is catered must be provided by a vendor holding proper food permits and who is pre-approved through Food Services. It is the preference of the university that all catered food be provided by the university’s Food Services department.

3.7.2 Documentation for Expenses

Departments must provide the following documentation of incurred hosting, retreat, or teambuilding expenses:

  • Original invoices, receipts, and other documents for meals and refreshments.
  • An explanation of the business purpose served.
  • A listing of those who attended.

3.7.3 Alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic beverages may not be provided at university expense in any setting on or off-campus. Any expenditures of alcoholic beverages will be charged to the employee’s university account and the employee may be subject to disciplinary action.


The President’s Council may authorize exceptions to the requirements of this policy if there is a documented finding that doing so is in the best interests of the university.


Financial Services will review questionable purchases and communicate with departments when hosting, meals, and refreshment expenses become excessive. Employees found to knowingly aid in processing transactions violating any provision of the policy may face disciplinary action.

4. Related Policies and Procedures

Business Activity Policy - 8/31/12
Retreat Policy – 1/6/14
Refreshments for Students – 10/11/12
De Minimis Incentives – 2/11/13
Recognition and Retreat – 1/21/14


Policy Owner: Administrative Vice President

Executive Sponsor: Administrative Vice President

Approved by President’s Council: 12/05/2019

Modified: 10/07/2021

Full revision history maintained by Human Resources.