A growing trending in the talent wars, a police department in outstate Minnesota is offering an added benefit when hiring new employees. They are enticing new hires with the opportunity to take a sabbatical after a few years of employment. As more and more employees are demanding balance and flexibility, employers are assessing if this kind of benefit helps with recruitment, retention and engagement.
But why sabbaticals? Who are they for? Do they support a healthy workplace culture? Can they benefit an employer? Can they circumvent burnout and prevent turnover?
Whether a company is adding sabbaticals to their list of benefits or this has long been an offering, employers are taking a closer look at incorporating a benefit that was once reserved for and exclusive to academia and tenured professors who could pause their current teaching load to research, speak or even teacher somewhere completely new.
Bringing shape to what a sabbatical looks like is key for both organizations and individuals alike.
Employers should look at sabbaticals compared to their other leave benefits, as well as to their workforce management strategies, clearly defining the parameters and usage.
For employees, if your organization offers the opportunity for a sabbatical, the big question is – how do you make the most of this opportunity?
Proactive vs. Reactive
Don’t wait until burnout sets in to consider a sabbatical. Sabbaticals should be part of your professional development plan developed with your leader. The goals of a sabbatical should outline not only personal and professional priorities, but also how it benefits your employer. It’s more than a great vacation or long break from the office. Making the most of the opportunity and time requires planning and intention. You need structure and purpose.
First, you must ask yourself what you want to achieve? In addition to a mental and physical break, this is a time to consider your personal and professional goals in your current role and longer-term career plans. Is there a new skill you want to learn? A class you’ve always wanted to take? A new industry you’re interested in exploring. Time to be an executive on loan? Increase community involvement? This is a time to try new things, learn and grow. But in order to do so, you have to know the desired outcome in order to achieve it.
Once you know what you want to achieve, it’s time to plan your sabbatical. What do you want your sabbatical to look like? Structuring your time off will be essential. Develop a plan that outlines where you will go, the connections you want to make, new experiences you want to have and more. This is an opportunity, but only if you make it one.
For a sabbatical to truly be a benefit, it’s a shared commitment between the employer and employee to make the most of this experience.