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How Can Your Sabbatical Benefit Others and Your Company?

Carriage on Calzada in Granada, Nicaragua

One of the most overlooked benefits of a sabbatical is the discovery that in your absence your team and co-workers can thrive. Yes, thrive!

Your sabbatical presents an unusual opportunity for others to step into your shoes for portions of your work. They can and must make decisions without your input – input from others perhaps, but not you.

By doing so, individuals expand their repertoire of skills, enhance competencies in new areas, build confidence and develop leadership skills.

In many situations, your team will be forced to be a better team.

Here’s what people who have covered a sabbatical goer’s work tell us:

  • “Tim’s sabbatical allowed me to take on new things. It was an opportunity to shine. It was also an opportunity for our work group to shine.”
  • “What did I learn? Big increase in technical skills but it also changed the way team solves problems. If it hadn’t been for Lydia being on sabbatical forcing us to do this, I’m not sure we would have.”
  • “We were challenged with self-management and rose to the occasion. We also had to come together more and now we don’t take team for granted.”

Step Out and They’ll Step Up

Negotiating a sabbatical requires educating your boss and/or higher level executives in the company about the process and outcomes. It isn’t enough to go tell them about your dream to volunteer in Haiti, bike the Pyrenees or attend an international TED2015, Truth and Dare in Vancouver, BC.

If a sabbatical program is in place in your company, you’ll also want to enhance your work coverage plan with highly motivated people. What’s gained by doing their work and part of yours? Why might they want to?

The benefits of your sabbatical to others whether listed in a sabbatical proposal or talked about in individual pre-planning meetings ensure success:

  1. Co-workers/direct reports gain insights into your job, the scope and talents necessary to succeed.
  2. Direct reports build self-esteem, improve skill level and often end up not only surprising themselves but others (as well as you)
  3. The company becomes less siloed and more agile as work is shared.
  4. Someone discovers a way to enhance a part of your job so that your efficiency is increased.  (It happens!)
  5. Clients are impressed your organization is characterized by trust and collaboration.
  6. Employee development commitment and engagement soar.

Build Brand, Morale and Pride

Whether internally or externally, how individuals fee about a company matters.

I mention our company’s Sabbatical Program to all my colleagues and friends. It reflects positively on this company. Plus it’s a big morale booster for all of us working hard and anticipating our own time away.

Makes me feel proud to be in this company. When I tell my friend. They don’t believe it!

It’s a way for us to continue to be a fast-forward company.  Also a way cool company. I tell everyone about it.

In our experience, employees touting their own organization in comments like these are the sweetest sounds of all.

But it’s more than that.  When stakeholders feel pride in a sabbatical program they will work hard for its future success.

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