Benefits to Companies That Offer Sabbaticals for Employees
Retain Valued Employees
Your top performers are likely also your most restless souls. Sabbaticals allow these most valuable players to stretch themselves without leaving your organization to do so. Not surprisingly, companies report that it’s almost impossible for competitors to poach these employees within a few years of sabbatical. So your company saves on recruiting and re-training costs, which can be 150 – 200% of a person’s salary. Sabbaticals are particularly valuable in high burnout industries. Some companies are even using voluntary unpaid sabbaticals as an alternative to layoffs.
Attract Top Talent
Sabbatical programs are also an attractive benefit for today’s potential employees. The largest pool of talent now entering the workforce consistently rates “time off” as a top priority (money comes in third). During the recent economic recession top new law school grads were paid by innovative firms not to report to work. Heather Eisenlord, who graduated from George Washington University near the top of her class, is just one of many students who will be traveling and volunteering on a reduced salary before joining their new employers when the economy returns.
Employees who take vacation come back with better focus and mental clarity. Sabbaticals provide that same benefit—exponentially. As such, sabbatical programs demonstrate a firm’s commitment to work-life balance and give senior managers the opportunity to demonstrate healthy habits. Sabbaticals provide the kind of experience education that broadens employee perspectives and fosters innovation. But it isn’t just new experiences that make a difference, sabbaticals give employees time to step back and clear their heads—something beneficial to any problem-solving situation.
Develop High Potentials
When they step away temporarily, senior staff members give developing employees a chance to learn and prove themselves in more challenging assignments. Often, companies with sabbatical programs move to a team approach for their client service. This allows companies to maintain consistent coverage no matter who is away or for what reason. A team approach also limits the impact of client turnover, establishing that clients belong to the company not individuals.
Revitalize Your Workforce
Happier employees work harder. Leaders who have a chance to reconnect with their dreams usually return to work with redoubled energy and commitment. They’ll also likely return with new skills, such as better communication or a heightened awareness of the big picture. The absence of those on sabbatical give managers a chance to see how well others perform while filling in for their on-leave colleagues.
Get Great Public Relations
Companies that invest in their employees by offering sabbaticals are perceived as nurturing, differentiated workplaces. Sabbatical programs give you bragging rights. What’s more, stories about what your company’s people do on sabbatical are compelling human interest pieces for media. Spread the word about your program. People want to work for and buy from companies that offer their people such a deep level of work/life balance.
Benefits to Individual Sabbatical-Goers
Sabbaticals don’t just make good business sense. They make good career sense. By choosing to work for a company that offers sabbaticals, you set yourself up for significant development opportunities that will set you apart from your peers.
Sabbaticals are not a ‘soft’ benefit. Savvy employers understand the business case for sabbaticals: recruitment, retention, staff development, innovation, and results. Plus, when senior staff members step out for their own sabbaticals, you’ll have the opportunity to step up and stretch yourself in their absence. If you prove yourself ready for new challenges, promotions will follow.
A sabbatical should be planned as carefully as a career move. You’ll want to reflect on personal/professional needs, do some research, establish outcomes, track your progress, and incorporate all that you learn into your career and personal life.
Sabbaticals Give Individual Careers a Competitive Edge
- Self-Awareness – When you step out of your comfort zone, you tend to learn a lot about yourself. And self-awareness is a critical key to leadership and career success.
- Replenished Energy – In the same way that interval training or days off boost performance in athletes, sabbaticals give you time to re-fuel and re-fill the well.
- Renewed Commitment – Time after time, executives who have experienced sabbaticals report renewed loyalty to their companies. Even the ones who admit to “considering career alternatives” prior to going on sabbatical most often return to work with an improved perspective and gratitude for their current job.
- A Surge of Creativity – You are capable of powerful creative thinking when you get outside your box and engage in a new world.
- The Ability to Inspire – When you achieve personal goals and understand your own dreams, you are more likely to inspire those around you.
- Increased Confidence – Everyone says it because it’s true. Well-executed sabbaticals help you develop confidence.
Because of the sabbatical, I’m more motivated in my job…more patient and understanding. – Chris Darrow, Arrow Electronics
For AppRiver, the sabbatical program will force us to train people in departments who would not otherwise learn things that they need to learn. It will make us more agile. It will make us overcome obstacles that we don’t encounter on a daily basis. – James Wirth, Support Manager, AppRiver
What Types of Sabbaticals Are There?
See the world, or just part of it. Experiencing another culture never fails to provide a new perspective on what we have at home.
Companies interested in social responsibility can give employees time out to help with a clean-up project, further a renewable energy effort, or do field research. Whether tagging sea turtles or working with an approved environmental group, the individual learns how to help the earth and his or her company reaps the benefits of supporting “green” causes.
This program gives employees an opportunity to donate time to a charity they and their companies believe in, such as Habitat for Humanity, teaching English to Guatemalan children, or helping with a church missionary project. The possibilities are endless and endlessly rewarding.
This program stimulates fresh thinking by giving employees the opportunity to experience a different work culture, inside or outside their own industry. Upon their return, the insight they gained while “out of the box” fuels their creative juices and provides fresh inspiration for their coworkers as well.
Many companies give employees the opportunity to spend time with their kids or take a trip with an aging parent. Providing a solid block of quality time with family members helps these people balance their priorities and gain perspective and renewed energy for their workplace objectives.
Educational sabbaticals enable employees to finish an MBA, become fluent in a second language, earn certification in a software program and more.
These programs enable employees to take time out to develop a new product or business process, or work on a project, book or theory.
Lifelong Goal Sabbatical
This program allows employees to re-energize themselves by chasing a lifelong dream such as acting in a theater production, competing in a triathlon, or hiking Mt. Everest. Going after an audacious goal – and conquering it – can create powerful momentum for the individual and the company that fosters that achievement.
Personal Growth Sabbatical
This time out for self-reflection can take the form of a silent meditation retreat, reading a stack of self-help books, or even filling up a journal with reflections, hopes, and plans. However it is done, individuals return with a personal clarity that might not have been possible otherwise.
This program allows employees to plan a sabbatical that includes two or more of the above.