Reversing Burnout Series :: Why Sabbaticals Work

by Peter Atherton, AE Growth and Impact Expert, Consultant, Speaker, Author of Reversing Burnout
The Win-Win: Life Balance for High Performing Workers,  Sustained Growth for Your Organization

A well-designed and implemented sabbatical program is a simple and effective way to combat the growing epidemic of burnout and disengagement in today’s workplace and ensures your organization’s success over the long-term.  At least, right now, it can position you and your organization to be different, better and more attractive in the job marketplace.


Below are Key Benefits of an Effective Sabbatical Program:

  1. Planned Refresh Cycles

    Top organizations realize that achieving professionals are human too, and more than ever, they need routine refresh cycles… and likely need them every 5 to 7 years! These routine refreshes are needed to push off the inevitable peaking and declining phases.  They are also needed to combat the ill effects of the all-consuming lifestyle of today’s working class.

    A well-timed refresh will allow an employee to RestoreRediscoverRetarget, and Revitalize aspects of their personal and professional lives, and help them reverse and avoid the Burnout-Disengagement Cycle. Even for those who are consistent with taking their paid time off, nothing beats a well designed sabbatical; it provides the time and space for employees to take their personal and professional growth to a whole new level. A sabbatical can be up to a  four-month period of time away.  This planned time away helps to increase overall awareness and emotional intelligence… both of which improve one’s ability to connect and relate to others and their performance as employees, leaders, and client-servers upon their return to work.

    As a result, employees are able to focus on aspects of their lives that may have gone neglected.  Providing space for awareness, sabbaticals open up opportunity for employees to gain perspective as well as much needed appreciation for the lives they live and their work’s purpose. For those that take the time, it ultimately provides a gateway for living a full life with less regrets and discontent.  

    A routine sabbatical is even more critical for those who are, and have been, less diligent with either form of “PTO”.  This is where a caring and strategic leadership team can make a real difference for its top talent and for its organization.  And, while top talent is refreshing, top organizations have the opportunity to benefit, especially in the areas of resilience testing, succession planning, and internal development – areas that are often overlooked, postponed, or abandoned in our busyness.  

  2. Healthy Resilience Testing and Effective Succession Planning
    Taking a class is great, but taking one online on your employee’s own time can be even more appealing (and more realistic) for many. There are a number of free or cost-effective courses available through services like Lynda/LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, as well as “massive open online courses” (MOOCs), that you can encourage employees to check out. To expand the knowledge to the entire team, implement a “lunch and learn” where attendees share with others.
  3. Designed Teamwork and Talent Development
    Check out this link of professional associations to find something that will apply to your business. Whether it’s a national agency or local group, there are often a wide variety of development opportunities available with membership fees. There are networking events, speaker forums, and conferences. As a member, your employees get special access to proprietary events and educational materials.
  4. Differentiator in the Marketplace
    Don’t let your employees become bored on the job. Find out what skills they might want to hone and search for opportunities to let them practice them. Whether it’s on a company-wide task force or by doing an inter-departmental rotation, it will keep your employees engaged with a new challenge. Ultimately, it allows your company to operate more smoothly as your team better understands various roles.

Take Action Now + Win Top Talent

Don’t be left in the dust! The benefits of an effective sabbatical program, especially in professional service organizations, are so clear that it is just a matter of time before your competitors develop one as an essential strategy to attract, engage, develop, and retain top talent. If you don’t want your organization to fall behind, create a plan for a sabbatical program now.  An effective program can be one aspect of an organization’s overall performance management and employee engagement and development strategy.  One method that can be particularly effective in developing and refining this overall strategy is the I.M.P.A.C.T. Process. Designing systems for your best talent to be their best-selves will position your organization to be its best-self… and will position you to win in both the marketplace and the “talent war”.

This article originally appeared on ActionsProve

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