We face turbulent and confusing times. From the unprecedented pandemic to wars and natural disasters, it feels like we live at a volcano's edge.
Everyone wants to get something or somewhere right now. Working harder and pushing our limits further is the shortest way to burnout faster.
The silver lining of COVID is that it has reminded us to press the brake pedal and slow down. Now, more than ever, we learned to prioritize the work-life balance and reconnect with ourselves.
Time away from work has countless benefits, both for employees and organizations. As an employer, you must be creative about motivating your staff to give their best at work. As numerous studies show, letting them leave — for a while — is the solution to making them stay long-term.
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First of all, it is not some new, post-COVID era concept. It has been around since 1880 when Harvard University launched academic sabbaticals for its professors to take a year off to recharge mentally and physically. The professors were using this time to develop professionally, learn new ideas that they could incorporate into their work, and pursue research. The sabbatical was beneficial both for the professor and the university: the professor would recharge, and the university would gain from the energy of the returning professor.
According to the 2018 Employee Benefits Report by SHRM, only 15% of organizations offered their professionals sabbatical leave, but only 5% were paid sabbaticals.
Recently, the conversations about sabbaticals have gained increasing attention. In 2022, The Wall Street Journal published The Sabbatical, a Power Move for the Burnout Era article about employees who chose to go on a sabbatical instead of joining the Great Resignation.
Sabbatical leave is a career break that you grant to meritorious employees to pursue their passions and do the activities they can’t do while following their regular work schedules.
A sabbatical leave lasts longer than a standard one- or two-week vacation.What do employees do on sabbatical leave?
Employees may use this time to:
Although initially associated with the academic environment, nowadays, more organizations offer sabbatical leave as a constructive benefit to their employees.
As a rule, sabbatical leave is a benefit granted to a worthy employee who has worked for your company for a specific number of years (usually more than five) or completed a particularly demanding project.
There is no legal minimum period for a sabbatical. Yet, if you want your employees to get the most out of this time away from work, the sabbatical leaves should last a month to one year.
The sabbatical leave is separate from other types of leave of absence you provide to your employees. When you decide to reward your most valuable employees with sabbatical leaves, you must consider certain aspects that you overlook in case of shorter breaks:
Regardless of the length of the sabbatical, the employees are not required to fulfill their daily obligations or report to work, yet they remain employed at your company during this period.
This is probably the most time-consuming question when implementing a sabbatical leave policy. We have no straight answer for you.
A paid sabbatical is an enormous expense for you as the employer, especially if you need to hire and train a temporary employee. Your employees will see it as a superior benefit if you pay them while on sabbatical.
Some employees may still appreciate it if you allow them to take a sabbatical, even if it is unpaid. Nonetheless, if they cannot take advantage of this benefit due to lost incomes, then your sabbatical leave policy is not an effective one.
|You pay full salary to the employees on sabbatical leave.
You won’t pay your employee’s wages, and/or their usual benefits will be frozen.
|Eligible for long-term employees.
|Eligible for short-term employees after a minimum period of employment.
|It is typically granted for employees’ professional development that benefits the company.
|Typically granted for recreational purposes that do not directly benefit the company.
You can choose a midway solution between offering paid and unpaid sabbatical leave. This means you can pay a percentage of the wage during the sabbatical. Or you may fully pay employees who use this time away from work to improve their professional skills but offer unpaid or reduced-pay sabbaticals to employees taking time off for reasons outside work.
You also have the option to grant a paid/unpaid hybrid sabbatical leave. For instance, your employees can go on a sabbatical for up to a year, but you pay their wages for only eight months. They can request a full-year sabbatical leave, but four months would be unpaid.
Sabbatical leave is an excellent opportunity for your employees to detach from work and focus on other meaningful things, professional or personal. According to a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the small-group tour operator G Adventures, Americans don’t de-stress until three days into their vacation. Hence, a sabbatical leave is more than welcome.
Here are the key benefits of sabbatical leave for employees and the company:
|Main Benefits of Sabbatical Leave
|Reduces the risk of burnout and lowers stress levels.
|Improves employee relations and teamwork.
|Creates a positive employee experience and branding.
|Encourages the overall work-life balance.
|Increases the entire team’s productivity.
|Reduces employee absenteeism.
|Enhances employee morale as they are encouraged to pursue and develop new skills.
Helps build effective teams.
|Increases employee retention and reduces turnover rates.
|Provides a time for reflection and self-focus.
|Emphasize teamwork importance.
|Creates a sense of loyalty and boosts employee creativity.
What does a comprehensive sabbatical leave policy include? What are the rules for applying for a sabbatical? Who is eligible for a sabbatical?
The exact interpretation of a sabbatical policy depends on each business, but next, we will cover the most important questions to include in your policy:
Here are some examples of companies that provide sabbatical leave as a benefit to their employees:
These are just a few examples, but many other companies also offer sabbatical programs to benefit their employees.
Each and every firm depends on its employees to succeed. The competition in today’s labor market is fierce. You don’t choose who works for you; the fact is that employees choose to work for your organization depending on what you have to offer.
Time away from work is your greatest gift to an increasingly stressed workforce.
Sabbatical leave is uncharted territory for many companies in the corporate world. However, the companies that took a leap of faith and implemented this benefit for their employees had great success on several levels. Sabbaticals give individuals the so-much-needed time away from work and a chance to focus on self-enrichment and professional growth.
It may sound like nonsense, but the truth is that by allowing your employees to spend a prolonged time away from work, you are building a strong, cohesive, and loyal team.
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