yourSABBATICAL Discusses the (Generational) XYZs of Sabbaticals
Sabbaticals Appeal Across the Ages in the Workplace
ATLANTA – May 18, 2009 – As if managing people weren’t hard enough already, today’s workforce is currently comprised of four different generations, all with distinct attitudes, behaviors and motivational triggers. Generational differences can affect everything, including recruiting, building teams, dealing with change, motivating, managing, and increasing productivity. Strategists at yourSABBATICAL suggest that a common denominator in talent management could be a sabbatical program. Designed properly, sabbaticals can be a win-win-win-win across the generation gap.
Sabbaticals Across the Generations
|Generation||Characteristics at Work||Appeal of Sabbaticals|
|Silent/Veterans||– Loyalty- Risk averse
– Commitment to team
– Fiscally conservative
|– Opportunity to “try out” ideas for retirement- Allow Silent/Veterans to contribute to their community or country
– Offers a break from lifetime of hard work
|Boomers||– Beginning to prioritize personal life over work- General distrust for authority
– Open to change
– May work longer because of economy or personal preference
|– Serves as ultimate flexible working arrangement- Satisfies need for lifelong learning
– Allows employers to keep this already motivated generation motivated
|Gen X||– Question authority- Work/life balance essential
– Strong technical skills
– Independent; adaptable
|– Appeals to Gen X’s need for “fun”- Helps create work/life balance
– Opportunity to leverage personal experiences as professional development
|Gen Y/Millenials||– Resilient to change- Appreciate diversity and inclusion
– Most educated generation
– Goal-oriented to achieve desired lifestyle
|– Keeps Gen Y/Millenials engaged- Align with their life goals
– Encourage a diversity of experiences throughout a career
Sabbaticals at the Top
Research indicates that the majority of Fortune 500 CEOs are members of the Veteran generation. “Veterans” (aka the “Silent” generation), born between 1922 and 1945, value tradition and discipline. Leaving a legacy is important to Veterans. Sabbaticals provide opportunities for senior executives to strengthen leadership teams and mentor individuals through the work coverage process. People left to do the job of their boss, who is on sabbatical (for at least four weeks), get to do it their own way. The returning Veteran executive is presented with the opportunity to connect with their team in significant ways and mentor them to one day succeed the senior executive, cultivating a legacy of leadership.
Sabbaticals may also appeal to Veterans because they are uneasy about the change and transition that impending retirement may bring. Sabbaticals could be viewed as a “new retirement” model, allowing Veterans the chance to explore other opportunities and interests. Whether contemplating a geographic change or a chance to volunteer, older workers can smooth the transition to the next phase of work-life using the sabbatical as a vehicle to “try out” ideas for retirement.
“Veterans distinguish themselves as a generation with a social back-drop of war and poverty. Many left their personal lives behind for careers,” said Barbara Pagano, co-founder of yourSABBATICAL. “Organizations will motivate older employees at this stage in their career with opportunities to contribute to their communities and their country, offering a career break to balance a life of hard work.”
Sabbatical Boom as Market Busts
The Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964, bring an optimism and sense of connectedness to the workplace. Of the four generations in the workforce, Boomers comprise over 30%. Not only will they work for years to come, they are an enormous catalyst for and source of innovation. Sabbaticals offer Boomers opportunities to learn new things, keep a creative edge and, of course, bring those new perspectives and ideas back to work.
Further, since Boomers have lost nearly half of their net worth due to the economic downturn, expect them to stay in the workforce longer. This reality is great news for companies. Knowledgeable, ready to learn and loyal in the right environment, these “knowledge-transfer agents” are the future “Brain Gain”. With freedom a thing of the past for these workers, smart employers will work hard to recognize that the “time out” benefits of sabbaticals have a special allure. These hard-working employees with an unsurpassed work ethic have kids taking off for college and for the first time have freedom from parental responsibilities. What they want is to pursue volunteering in the not-for-profit sector, time with aging parents, personal goals and dreams. Deferred retirement is not just about financial necessity, but also about Baby Boomers wanting to stay engaged and relevant. As organizations recalculate the over-50 segment – the fastest growing segment of the workforce – and ways to woo them, the sabbatical appeals as the ultimate in flexible work arrangements. Serial sabbatical experiences for this group of high achievers satisfies their need for life-long learning and goal setting, giving employers access to a big piece of the pie of talented, already motivated workers.
Sabbaticals Mark a Valuable Spot for Gen X
Generation X, born 1965-1980, brings a new definition of success to the workplace that is predicated by having a career and a life. In charge of their own careers, company promises of promotions and titles down the road won’t engage Gen X. Instead, savvy companies will respect this generation’s “free agent status” and invest in them as individuals. Companies hoping to wow this group of workers will spend time creating sabbatical programs respecting this generation’s priority on work/life goals.
Early on, Generation X experienced hard times. Many entered the workplace in the early ‘80s, during the last major economic downturn. They saw their parents get laid off or face job insecurity as well. They are committed to their work and team, but beyond that, “let the good times roll.” Career breaks appeal to their one true motivation for a stimulating workplace – fun. Legendary “sabbatical stories” can create legacy and lore for a company and allow Gen X to connect fun and work in a unique way.
“The high value placed on having a life that isn’t solely defined by work is key for Generation X”, said Elizabeth Pagano, co-founder of yourSABBATICAL and a member of Gen X. “Employers need to foster this generation’s personal and professional goals by establishing talent management programs that maximize Gen X’s values.”
The newest members of the workforce, Generation Y, offer another dynamic for managers to consider. Born between 1981 and 2000, Gen Y wants their life and then some. Fluent in today’s technologies, possessing great business acumen and with a firmer grasp on money matters than those before them, these employees want to be successful – very successful – at work. However, business may have to restructure the career ladder, allowing them to zig zag their way with dotted line experiences and “time outs” to accomplish “life goals” as they work their way up. Sabbaticals with leadership development as a core goal that allow alignment with life goals will appeal to Gen Y.
Companies will have to work hard to keep this generation of workers engaged and prevent them from seeking other job opportunities. It is estimated that 40-50 % of Gen Y has seen a parent or family member work hard for a company only to be laid off. No doubt this current downturn in the economy is shaping Gen Y with a significant, powerful lesson – beware of trusting the company you work for.
The Future is Now
Regardless of generation, time has become the new currency in the workplace.
“In the absence of being able to pay people more, companies need to get creative about ways to motivate, rejuvenate and develop their employees, no matter how young or old they are,” said Barbara Pagano.
Sabbatical programs assist organizations is creating loyalty with a focus on valuing employees’ goals and interests across the generations. Best to start now before Generation Z layers another set of talent management implications on companies around 2020.
For more information on sabbatical programs, please visit http://yourSABBATICAL.com.
yourSABBATICAL is dedicated to helping companies and employees plan sabbaticals to make sure they aren’t just a fun vacation without measurable results. The firm’s process includes: helping employers design and implement the best sabbatical program to meet their HR strategy, budgetary and corporate expectations; helping employees plan and craft defined goals they take away and bring back into the business as development assets; and designing work coverage processes and other systems that cross-pollinate talent while the employee is on sabbatical to further benefit the organization’s team structure for a win-win solution. yourSABBATICAL founders, Barbara Pagano and Elizabeth Pagano, are sabbatical thought leaders, bloggers, and authors. Together, they wrote the acclaimed leadership book, The Transparency Edge: How Credibility Can Make or Break You in Business, published by McGraw-Hill. yourSABBATICAL has helped Fortune 500 companies with sabbatical and leadership training, including General Mills, Royal Caribbean, General Electric, Coca-Cola, Target, American Express, Delta, and AT&T and is a winner of The Conference Board and the Families and Work Institute’s 2009 “Moving into the Future” Award.