Give Your Employees the Gift of Time Away

Those in your organization who take a sabbatical will probably stay with you, and return with more energy, determination, and skill.

Sabbaticals are growing as an employee benefit, with leaders who take them reporting that they return to work refreshed, with new ways of thinking. But sabbaticals aren’t the only way that leaders find themselves taking time away from association life. Even when it seems like an obstacle at first—job changes (and then returns), layoffs—time away from the job is giving leaders a different perspective.

What can time away do for your employees? Consider these benefits.

A New Perspective

Julia Herz of the American Homebrewers Association experienced firsthand the impact that extended time away can make. When she left her position as craft beer program director at the Brewers Association amid pandemic-related layoffs, she took a two-month “vision quest” in a pop-up camper that challenged her to see the world in a new way. Now that she’s returned to the brewing world as the executive director of AHA (an arm of the Brewers Association), Herz is able to see the community through that renewed lens.

“It was a time of growth and gain in terms of new perspectives, new ways of looking at things,” she said in an interview with PorchDrinking. “As a result, today, I’m more grounded than ever.”

Improved Employee Well-Being

When C. David Gammel, CAE, then executive director of the Entomological Society of America, took a two-month sabbatical in 2018, he gave his mind an immediate rest after a particularly challenging stretch of work at the organization. As a result, he avoided burnout. Offer your employees the same opportunity and you won’t have to manage a chronically stressed, often-ill workforce that isn’t as productive as it could be.

“You don’t have to let yourself get to a crisis point,” Gammel said in 2018. “I think it can be kind of a maintenance thing, where you take some time off and it allows you to process it, reorder, reenergize, and then come back at it. And I don’t think you should wait for a personal crisis to occur before you do that.”

Better Retention

There are signs that providing extended time away will make your employees more willing to stay with you. In the midst of “The Great Resignation,” a sabbatical could be a benefit that keeps important employees on your team. Your staff will probably see your organization as one that cares about its people, and will be more determined to show their loyalty and give their all as a result.

“We found that they increase employee satisfaction and retention, and that people who were given sabbaticals by their employers returned more energized about their work with increased feelings of creativity and loyalty,” said DJ DiDonna, founder of The Sabbatical Project, in TIME.

A More Versatile Workforce

Sabbaticals don’t just have to be about much-needed rest and rejuvenation. Professionals often take sabbaticals to pursue other projects, follow passions, and learn new skills. As a result, they come back as a more capable employee who can fill in your skill gaps.

“Leaders who take a learning sabbatical often gain greater strategic focus,” said Halelly Azulay, president and founder of TalentGrow LLC, in an interview with the Society for Human Resource Management.

(MarkgrafAve/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Michael Hickey

By Michael Hickey

Michael Hickey is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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