Work Sabbaticals: What Are They And Why Should We Normalise Them?

Woman happy at wrk desk

Taking a break from work can be seen as a sign of a lack of dedication in today’s world (rolling eyes). However, the reality is that taking time off to recharge can actually benefit both employees and employers.

Imagine you have burnout and want to quit, but you love your job; you would rather go on an extended leave from work and come back fresh as a daisy, without losing your position, and still committed to your career – this is where work sabbaticals come in.

Benefits for employees 

Taking a sabbatical can be highly beneficial, both personally and professionally. A sabbatical can provide you with the opportunity to recharge your batteries and explore new interests. You may decide to take a language course, travel to a new country, or learn a new skill that could benefit your future career. By taking the time to step back from your daily routine, you can gain a fresh perspective and come back to work with renewed energy and creativity.

Moreover, a sabbatical can also help you develop new skills and perspectives that can benefit your career in the long term. For instance, you may gain a deeper understanding of other cultures, learn how to manage your time more effectively or develop new communication skills that can help you build better relationships with clients or colleagues.

Benefits for companies 

Offering sabbatical leave to employees can bring benefits that outweigh the costs. It can lead to increased retention, improved productivity and creativity, knowledge sharing, and an enhanced employer brand.

Sabbaticals show employees that their employer is invested in their personal and professional growth, leading to increased loyalty and job satisfaction. Sabbaticals also provide opportunities for gaining new skills, knowledge, and perspectives that can be shared with colleagues, leading to a more diverse and innovative workplace culture.

Companies that offer sabbatical leave can be viewed as progressive and employee-friendly, enhancing their reputation as an employer of choice. Ultimately, sabbaticals can lead to a more engaged, productive, and successful workforce.

Normalising work sabbaticals 

Making sabbaticals a regular practice in organisations can be highly advantageous for both employees and businesses. Here are a few strategies that businesses can use to make sabbaticals a standard practice:

One of the most effective strategies is to make sabbaticals a part of the company culture. Businesses can create a culture that values personal and professional growth by including sabbaticals in their standard benefits package. This sends a message to employees that taking time off for personal development and exploration is not only acceptable but encouraged.

Creating a clear leave policy is also crucial to making the process smoother for both employees and managers. The policy should outline the criteria for eligibility, duration of leave, and how to apply, reducing confusion and ensuring that employees feel comfortable taking advantage of this benefit when they need it.

Businesses can also offer alternative options for employees who may not be eligible for a sabbatical, such as flexible schedules or job-sharing arrangements. This shows that the company is committed to supporting employee work-life balance and personal development.

By creating a culture that values personal and professional growth, businesses can foster a more engaged, motivated, and successful workforce.

How does one broach the subject of a work sabbatical?

Asking for a sabbatical can be nerve-wracking, but with a well-prepared request, you can increase your chances of a positive outcome. Here are some tips on how to ask for a sabbatical:

Plan ahead and determine when you would like to take your sabbatical and how long you plan to be away from work. Prepare a detailed proposal that outlines the purpose of your sabbatical, how it will benefit you and the company, and how your work will be covered while you are away.

Then, schedule a meeting with your manager or HR representative to discuss your request, and be flexible in considering alternative solutions if a sabbatical isn’t possible. Have a plan for your return, including how you will catch up on any missed work and how you will integrate any new skills or knowledge gained during your sabbatical.

Be sure to follow up after your meeting and be open to discussing alternatives if your request is denied.

Remember, asking for a sabbatical is a personal decision, and there is no guarantee that your request will be approved. However, by presenting a well-prepared proposal and being flexible, you can increase your chances of a positive outcome.

At the end of the day…

Work sabbaticals can provide numerous benefits for both employees and employers. By normalising and encouraging sabbaticals, companies can attract and retain top talent, increase creativity and productivity, and prevent burnout and turnover. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stuck in a rut, consider taking a sabbatical – it might just be the break you need to come back stronger than ever.

Bianca is the mind behind HEYBOO - A platform for aspiring female entrepreneurs to read about how their peers formed these businesses, as well as gain knowledge on how to create a business themselves through 'Level Up' (coming soon). HEYBOO also taps into the blog side with articles in beauty, travel, business, and much more.