Giving employees extended amounts of time off sounds like something that would be perfect for staff members and havoc inducing for a company’s bottom line. In reality, quite the opposite is true. Studies show that employees who take sabbaticals come back feeling refreshed, and are more productive as a result. Instead of sitting at their computers trying to look busy, they’re ready to take on new projects and drum up new business. For this reason, sabbaticals are becoming increasingly common at companies around the country, and the unusual perk is helping to attract new hires too.
The Society for Human Resource Management estimates that about 18 percent of firms offer unpaid sabbaticals currently, with five percent giving paid sabbaticals. Typically these are available for employees who have been with the company for more than five years, with others becoming eligible after a decade of service. Though the figure isn’t startlingly high yet, it’s a reflection of a trend that was unheard of decades ago and is slowly working its way into mainstream business.
At first, the idea of giving an employee an extended period of time off may seem crazy and impractical. But when a manager steps back and thinks about the benefits, the positive points become more apparent. Particularly in high-stress, fast-paced fields like finance, sabbaticals can become invaluable when it comes to allowing an employee to recharge their batteries and fully commit to work when they return. For employees who are often working 15-hour days, sabbaticals are a chance to unwind, calm down, and take a break from a cycle of long hours with little to no sleep.
Recruiters explain that the idea of sabbaticals makes their job easier too. It gives potential new hires something to get excited about, and is an unusual and enticing perk. Instead of seeing endless months of tiring days ahead, they see a direct reward for their hard work. A sabbatical, either paid or unpaid, also shows that the employer values the mental health of the employees, indicating a positive company culture. Instead of solely focusing on the bottom line, employers want their staff members to be happy and rested.
We know that many potential new employees today tend to focus on the culture and benefits of the job they’re considering, as opposed to strictly zeroing in on the salary as they may have in years past. With this shift comes the need for recruiters to change their approach, too. Illustrating that the organization values mental health and enjoys rewarding dedicated employees is a way to do this effectively.
Current employees see the first-hand perks of sabbaticals, as they have been shown to help a worker who is approaching burn out feel more compelled to stay on with that organization. When people work long days doing the same type of work over and over, it’s easy for them to get fed up. They may want to quit, and when they’re at the office they’re not fully present or invested. Though a sabbatical cannot completely resolve this issue, sometimes enjoying a chunk of time that is spent solely on family or pursuing hobbies is exactly what that person needs to feel recharged and reinvested in their work.
Does your organization offer sabbaticals? Do you see a benefit to them?