Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 139: Why corporate America should adopt sabbaticals

A friend of mine is taking all her vacation time and jamming it into one month as a sort of sabbatical. She's been at her office for awhile and has accrued four weeks vacation. Lucky duck.

This got me thinking about sabbaticals and corporate America. What if your company actually gave you a sabbatical? Like you had to take one. Like it was part of your job. Like you had more than your measly two weeks off per year. What would happen?

  1. Avoid burn out.
  2. Heal from burn out.
  3. Long term employee retention for the company.
  4. A fresh mind.
  5. Potential for creative solutions to spring forth as there is time to think them up.
  6. A chance to see the world.
  7. A chance to achieve dreams.
  8. Time to finally make it to a yoga class (this is a personal one)
  9. A chance to volunteer for worthy causes.
  10. And by worthy causes, I mean sleeping in and avoiding the early morning commute.
Sounds like the world's best perk to me.

Perhaps as baby boomers retire and attracting quality talent to fill their places becomes more important, companies will consider adding sabbaticals to their list of perks.
"Employers are finding that employees are more engaged, more productive, and more loyal when they come back from sabbaticals," says Rose Stanley, practice leader of compensation and benefits for World at Work, an association for compensation professionals." -- full article from US news

So there you go.

Most CEOs and especially CFOs would likely balk at sabbaticals saying they would interrupt the work flow or cost the company too much money. But would business really be affected? Would the almighty dollar suffer? Is it really healthier to give people skimpy vacations? Is that really living a balanced life?

I once worked for an advertising agency where I told the president that I wouldn't quit this job to take another job, I'd quit this job to take a nap. Perhaps not my most stellar career move but there was some truth to it. We can run ourselves ragged in our corporate gigs and wake up one morning not able to do much more than put on our bunny slippers and talk in tongues.

If I had a sabbatical I'd high tail it to Paris and walk all day long for months, stopping only to sip coffee at a café here and eat a crepe there. Then I'd head back home and hang with the family. Take up the same sorts of activities but it would be Tim Horton's coffee and my mom's pancakes. After that, I'd go back to my beloved Maui because I still feel ruined from my trip. Everywhere else seems absolutely dreadful once you've been to Maui. And that's saying something. I live near the beach in Southern California. It's pretty here.

And while I would be in all those places, I'd be able to look around, to see life being lived rather than trying to earn a living. Maybe I'd be better off if I were a "happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender."

What would you do, dear Reader? If you had a year off and money was no issue, what would you do?

This is what Stefan Sagmeister did in his TED talk about the power of time off:


  1. I would hi tail it to SoCal with my family in toe, and drink Peet's coffee, and eat Whole Foods ridiculously priced stuff, and have my younger sister entertain me. I would go mad local: have my hair and nails done everyday, yet hang out in my yoga pants, all casual like, with a new pair of sparkly flipflops for each day of the week.

  2. I would do an internship at a winery in Napa. Learn how to pick and press and prepare some great chardonnay. And during my off-hours, I would lie on a blanket under an oak tree reading and writing.


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