Why companies should consider employee sabbaticals


Companies often debate between costs and the perceived value – both tangible and real – and HR has a hard time selling the concept. 

While most companies like the idea of sabbaticals, they often find it difficult to measure and quantify the benefits around them. There is a constant tussle between costs to the organisation vs the perceived value (tangible and real) which HR and business have a hard time selling to the board. Here are the top five reasons why organisations should strongly consider sabbaticals as part of their HR strategy.

Rejuvenation and self-discovery

Boredom, fatigue, burnout, lack of encouragement and motivation tend to creep in when employees continue to punch in long hours doing the same tasks over and over again, which don’t seem to add much value. Many times, taking a sabbatical can give an employee a new way to look at existing problems. It may also help the employees to discover more about themselves so that they may be able to come back and apply for a new internal job posting within the organisation. This helps in channelising existing talent to take on new responsibilities and prevent loss of transferrable skills.

Connection of personal goals to satisfaction

Sabbaticals help employees get the essential time off to execute their long-planned personal goals or to even re-discover old hobbies, interests and friends. This opportunity helps in establishing an emotional and mental connect between personal goals and the organisation.

Great Social capitalWhen employees become champions of organisational policies to their peers, family and friends outside of work, they help in building great brand value for the company. This helps in substantially reducing the time it takes to attract and retain top talent in Y and Z generations, towards the progressive policies of the organisation in the digital age.

Stronger leadership pipelineWhen experienced employees at mid to senior levels in the organisation take a sabbatical, this becomes an opportunity for younger employees to learn new skills. It also helps in preparing them for future roles and becomes a testing ground for business and HR to identify future leaders within the organisation. This helps build a stronger leadership pipeline at various levels within the organisation, resulting in depth and flexibility within teams enabling them to quickly pivot with changing times.

Loyalty and caringRewarding sabbaticals on time-based maturity encourages employees to remain loyal. It also prevents loss of valuable talent to the organisation and substantially reduced turnover. Progressive policies, like sabbaticals for tenured employees, are a great way to show that the organisation cares.

(The author is an HR Consultant.)

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