Whilst sabbaticals are mainly seen as a staff retention tool and excellent for boosting morale, more businesses are becoming aware that offering extended leave to staff is beneficial to the company as a whole.
But for many businesses, the idea of giving your staff a month or more off as extra paid leave is unthinkable – what if they never come back?
In fact, we found that the opposite is true. Staff who stay long enough to be eligible for a sabbatical often stay with the company for many years. Sabbaticals offer staff the chance to indulge in the type of adventure they could not have otherwise experienced. This presents the opportunity for personal growth and developing and learning new skills.
We find that staff who have taken time out will often return to work with renewed energy and a fresh approach to their work and role in the company. Research conducted by the Journal of Education for Business, found that the benefits of sabbaticals far outweigh the costs when the process is properly managed.
With careful planning and advance notice, management can ensure that staff are given ample time to prepare for the period. The key point to remember in offering sabbatical leave is that it is a very specific type of reward. Managers who implement these schemes are looking to acknowledge the contribution a team member has made over a number years, not with health insurance or gym membership, but with an opportunity.
Managers may be put off at the thought of losing a member of staff for a period of time and may perceive this to affect customer or client services. At Berkeley PR, we have seen almost the opposite of this. Clients are in favour of sabbaticals. The team member’s plans are of great interest to clients, and such adventures are a talking point on their return. Given the amount of time the team has to prepare, the client relationship shouldn’t suffer.
On their return to work, far from any re-adjustment period, we have seen that with a fresh head, staff approach client work with a new attitude, suggesting ideas and posing questions that would not have occurred to them otherwise.
With increased productivity, boosted morale and a new approach to work, the opportunity to go travelling or spend more time with family is a win-win situation for both employer and employee.
In effect, a chunk of the time a staff member has given to the company is returned to them. The practice of returning the gift in the same way it came is the fundamental point to the benefits of sabbaticals. The person taking leave is given a chance to do whatever they wish, with the one thing we never have enough of – time.