This year, we kept our annual Wilbert retreat a secret. We told our team to block off their calendars for the whole day and to look for a message from Caroline Wilbert with more details. The day before the retreat, the team received this email:
So what’s the plan for the retreat tomorrow?
For real. Nothing.
Those of you who have worked at The Wilbert Group a while know I am a big fan of The Energy Project. A central theme in their work is:
“Human beings perform best and most efficiently when we move rhythmically between expending and recovering energy. When we’re working, we want to fire on all cylinders. When we’re not working, we must truly renew and refuel.”
The truth is we need breaks in the course of the day. That is why I take walks behind the building many afternoons around 3 p.m. and why I love hearing a group laughing about non-work topics over our big table at lunch. We also need breaks in the course of the year, which is why we close the office the last week of December and why it is important to take your vacation and personal days.
However, sometimes vacation can be about a lot of things other than refueling.
They can be about childcare, running errands, making conversation with your in-laws, or partying your way through a bachelorette weekend with a lot of women you don’t even like that much.
So that’s why we wanted to give you another day off, a day just for YOU. We purposefully didn’t tell you the “nothing plan” in advance, as we didn’t want you to make that oil change appointment or set up a lunch with the slightly annoying person who has been bugging you to get together. This is not about accomplishing anything; this is about resting, renewing and recovering.
I have two requests:
First, ask yourself this question: What will make me feel recharged? Is that a yoga class, a massage, a long walk with your dog, a whole day just piddling around your house, cooking an elaborate meal, writing a poem, listening to music, going on a hike, watching old movies in your pajamas or something else?
Second, whatever your answer is: Do it.
Here’s how some of our team members spent their day:
Lindsey Broscher baked a rum cake. She said baking has long been therapeutic for her.
Haley Haas spent the day reading a guilty pleasure biography by one of the real housewives of NYC on a beautiful Southern porch.
Adam Schick hit up the batting cages, a newly re-discovered passion of his that was funded in part by Wilbert. His old running route went by a baseball complex and it always reminded him how much he liked playing baseball. He’s been using his Wilbert Wellness stipend over the last few months to buy equipment and now it’s a great activity he enjoys because it makes him feel like a kid again.
After a day relaxing outside with her dog, Caroline Moore met friends for dinner at Politan Row at Colony Square before seeing Darlin’ Cory, the new musical at Alliance Theatre.
A few members of our team met for a rooftop happy hour at St. Julep.
Patricia Bacon took in the views at Piedmont Park and explored parts of Atlanta she normally doesn’t get to see.
Sarah Weston and I enjoyed a day all to ourselves, while our little ones were in daycare. We both had a massage and did some solo shopping.
We purposefully made this day unstructured because we know that everyone recovers differently. For some, a walk in nature does the trick. For others, it’s a cozy chair with a good book. No matter the activity, we value recovery time just as much as we value productivity time because we know people need both to be successful.
Over the years we have introduced a number of benefits at Wilbert with recovery and wellness in mind. These benefits include a $100 monthly stipend to spend on whatever wellness means to you (gym memberships, massages, national park passes, you name it), unlimited paid sick time, a closed office the last week of December, plus Summer Fridays, work-from-home Wednesdays and four personal days (to be used for non-company holidays, mental health days or any other day that is important to you).
Wellness at both the individual and organizational levels has long been a priority at Wilbert. Coming out of the pandemic, we are placing an even greater importance on this core value and will continue to look for ways to reinforce it as we grow our team and our business.