While many people dream of taking extended periods of time off of work – very few actually go ahead with it. However, the number of people taking sabbaticals is slowly increasing, with employees wanting to pursue and fulfill their goals or develop new or existing skills. Businesses are starting to open their eyes to the potential benefits of this and, depending on how you play your cards, your employee can return to their career even better than when they left.
Jasmine Brook has recently returned from a 3 month sabbatical used to travel around Asia and America. Joining Wellers shortly after her 17th birthday and, qualifying at the young age of 21, Jasmine decided a sabbatical was something she wanted to pursue after 8 years within the company. Jasmine wished to fulfill some personal interests having worked so hard to achieve her professional goals.
Working full-time from a young age often means bypassing University, and ultimately bypassing the vast amount of free time that other young people have to gain personal skills, or to go travelling. This was the case for Jasmine, and reaching her mid-twenties sparked the realisation that she hadn’t yet had the opportunity to see the world. This is where the journey begins. Having always been keen on travelling, she proposed this to the Wellers' Partners who were encouraging of the idea, and helped to make her dream, a reality.
Whilst having an employee leave for an extended period of time can place pressure on the business, there are often long term benefits to be reaped if utilised in the right way.
“It is all possible with thorough planning. There’s so much to think about when leaving the office for an extended period, but planning helps ensure you’ve got everything covered and you can truly enjoy your time away.”
“The time of year you decide to go should also play an essential role in the planning process. It’s advisable to avoid going on sabbatical leave during a busy business period as it can leave you feeling stressed as well as putting extra strain on your colleagues.” Jasmine left in February and returned at the end of April, when her March year end accounts started coming in.
The day-to-day routine of work can eventually leave employees feeling drained, so taking a longer break can often renew and refresh their attitude towards work and become more appreciative of a stable routine.
Jasmine’s take on it is that being away from the office definitely made her appreciate her normal routine and she started to miss it – making her look forward to her return.
Taking time away from the office gives employees a break from their everyday routine, meaning that they can return with a fresh perspective and more motivation.
From Jasmine’s personal experience a huge benefit for her has been feeling much more motivated in the office, with a fresh head and perspective to tackle her tasks, bringing a renewed energy to the office. After all, productive staff result in a productive business.
Possibly one of the biggest benefits of sabbatical leave is retaining talented staff that work hard as it shows that as an employer you care for your employees’ personal development. Furthermore, it’s also more financially beneficial than having to chop and change teams with the disruption that can cause to client relationship as well as having to go through the rigors of the recruitment and training process again.
A lot of employers still don’t have a sabbatical programme in place, which could cause valuable staff to stray or leave the business permanently. From Jasmine’s personal view she believes that on the whole, if people take sabbaticals they’re more likely to stay with an employer.
Wellers take on trainees straight from school and University, so typically a lot of these individuals are going to want to have an extended period of time away from the office at some point. This is especially the case after working hard over a 3-5 year period simultaneously studying and working full-time.
Maintaining a work-life balance is essential for personal health and can also improve the efficiency of work performance. Without a balance employees are more likely to become burnt out and less productive.
Before Jasmine went on sabbatical leave, she felt she needed to improve her work-life balance. Since her return she’s made the decision to be strict and make more time in the evening for herself. Meeting a lot of people that have nothing in poorer countries has made Jasmine realise what is important in life, and although work is very important – there's also plenty to do and pursue outside of the office.
It’s so easy to get weighed down by day-to-day tasks, and as a manager you’re expected to meet deadlines, look after your client portfolio and the employees you’re training. However, by Wellers offering sabbaticals it exposes a different side to the work pressure.
Jasmine wouldn’t have taken a sabbatical if she wasn’t able to return to her job because she enjoys it and wouldn’t have wanted to start afresh elsewhere as she feels she’s a part of the firm as she’s grown up with Wellers.
The sabbatical leave made her feel more valued because she knew the firm wanted her back. With a lot of planning Wellers managed whilst she was gone instead of hiring someone new.
Whilst sabbaticals do have many benefits, they can come with mental obstacles such as the fear of leaving your job for a longer period of time. But, with the right support from your employer they can be a positive thing and there are often many rewards to realise.
The content of this post is up to date and relevant as at 03/07/2017.
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