Frequently Asked Questions
- If I get laid off because of the economy, can I create my own "sabbatical"?
- My company is talking about "forced sabbaticals". Should I be worried?
- How do I know if a sabbatical makes sense at my stage in my career?
- What’s the biggest mistake people make with their sabbaticals?
- My industry moves quickly. How could I possibly take that much time off?
- I love my work! Why would I want to take a sabbatical?
- How can a sabbatical help my career?
- How often will my company let me take a sabbatical?
- What’s the right length for a sabbatical?
- What kinds of companies offer sabbatical programs?
- Why don’t more companies offer sabbaticals?
- If I get laid off because of the economy, can I create my own "sabbatical"? (↑ up)
Your job loss becomes a sabbatical when you establish goals and create a plan for your work break. Use the time to enhance your career, learn, rejuvenate, and prepare yourself for new opportunities. If a full-time career break isn’t in the cards, hunt hard for a job three days a week and indulge in some life long interests the other two. Or step off of the career track and froth some part-time lattes while you re-educate and regroup.
- My company is talking about "forced sabbaticals". Should I be worried? (↑ up)
Forced sabbaticals, lay offs, severance retreats. No matter what you call them, your first reaction will likely be panic. But an unexpected layoff could be one of the best things that happens to you in your career—if you leverage the opportunity by making personal growth part of your strategy. Used purposefully, a forced sabbatical becomes a point of distinction in your career. The experience adds valuable context to your personal brand, demonstrating that you are someone who responds to adversity with creativity and ambition.
- How do I know if a sabbatical makes sense at my stage in my career? (↑ up)
Sabbaticals make sense at every stage in a career. Here’s what sabbaticals bring to each generation:
- Veterans (b.1922-1945): Sabbaticals provide opportunities for senior executives to strengthen leadership teams and mentor individuals through the work coverage process, creating a legacy of leadership.
- Boomers (b.1946-1964): These “knowledge-transfer agents” have an unsurpassed work ethic. Repeat sabbaticals will keep this critical group energized as they stay committed to the workforce and redefine our notions of retirement.
- Gen X (b.1965-1980): For these “free agents,” success means having a career and a life. Sabbaticals are one way companies invest in these relationships and keep them engaged.
- Gen Y (b.1981-2000): The most educated and diverse generation in the workforce, the Millennials are dually-driven by career and life goals. Sabbaticals meet their desire for experience and achievement.
- What’s the biggest mistake people make with their sabbaticals? (↑ up)
The most challenging part of a successful career sabbatical is the pre-planning work that guarantees the time away will be well spent. Reflecting on your current realities, strengths and development areas, as well as your future goals, is a necessary step that should drive your sabbatical plan. Skip this phase, and what you thought would be a great plan might not end up being so stellar.
- My industry moves quickly. How could I possibly take that much time off? (↑ up)
Fear is a common denominator in the beginning stages of the sabbatical process. How will my work get done? How will I catch up when I return? How will the time away translate to success? That’s why we don’t advocate a hasty “I’m outta here” approach to sabbaticals. We promote planned sabbaticals to ensure that you “step out” and “step up” and your company gets a real return on their investment.
- I love my work! Why would I want to take a sabbatical? (↑ up)
If you love what you do, you’re probably very successful doing it. But the dirty little secret is that your obsession with work will eventually have a dark side. Like or not, people with one-dimensional lives (work) are usually not the best leaders; they’re also not usually running with all their creative cylinders. Though it will be difficult for someone like you to make the break, a sabbatical could be the best thing that ever happens to you. And you could end up taking your career to new heights as a result.
- How can a sabbatical help my career? (↑ up)
Sabbaticals aren’t just extended vacations. Time away from work may not seem like a smart move, and it’s not when the purpose is fuzzy or doesn’t exist OR when you’re not a solid performer. But with keen self-awareness and a focus on the future, this experience allows your time away to accomplish objectives that have a clearly stated benefit for your career, your company, your relationships and your life. That’s a payoff vacations don’t usually have. To read more, check out the Benefits for Individuals page.
- How often will my company let me take a sabbatical? (↑ up)
On average, sabbatical programs are offered every seven years, but that seems to be changing. Companies that depend on young talent and want to keep them motivated to offer a sabbatical every four to six years. It’s important to remember that a sabbatical shouldn’t be a one-time experience. Depending on your loyalty to your company, you could have four or five sabbaticals over the course of your career.
- What’s the right length for a sabbatical? (↑ up)
Four weeks is a good start, although we think six to ten is better. With at least four weeks off, individuals are able to accomplish many things they want to do in life/career that vacation time does not allow, including successfully unplugging and leaving work behind. Many individuals have taken as much as a year although, for most, this seems too long.
- What kinds of companies offer sabbatical programs? (↑ up)
All kinds. From service industry giants to technology companies to law firms. Small companies, too, offer paid and unpaid sabbaticals. To get a peek at this growing list of innovators, check out our Workplaces for Sabbaticals list.
- Why don’t more companies offer sabbaticals? (↑ up)
The overriding concern is cost. Nailing down an ROI (return on investment) figure for a sabbatical program can be challenging. But the same can be said for any number of employee retention and satisfaction initiatives. Many companies that offer sabbaticals say their “costs avoided” — especially the cost of replacing lost employees, which is generally thought to be two or three times the person’s salary – is one of the key reasons they continue to offer the program.