Research Suggests Corporate Sabbaticals May Be Good For Business

Sabbaticals are a gratifying way employers can address employee burnout and manage stress and staff turnover. The average American workers work 44 hours a week and over 40 years in their career. Now, that’s more than a quarter of the time for any one person to put into work, so it’s no wonder that some feel burned out by the age of 30. Taking a career break is an obvious alternative, but many worry about leaving the security of a job and a fat paycheck. This is where corporate sabbaticals come in, a seemingly beneficial way to take care of workers.

Employee sabbaticals are still are inside corporate America, however, there’s a skyrocketing trend in employers offering more long-term vacations. According to a survey from the SHRM, the percentage of employers offering sabbatical from work rose to nearly 17% in 2017. This is a significant rise from 1977 when McDonald’s became instituted the first corporate sabbatical program in the United States.


Research suggests sabbatical from work is not just good for employees for rejuvenation and renewal, they benefit the organization because the positive changes remain long after the workers return to work. Corporate sabbaticals not only benefits the employees who take time away from work but the organization as well.

In one study titled Creative Disruption: Sabbaticals for Capacity Building and Leadership Development in the Nonprofit Sector, found that a majority of leaders said the time-away was uplifting and regenerative. The time-away allowed employees and leaders an opportunity to reflect on the direction of their work. At the same time, employees found the limits of their productivity and were able to get more in tune with their strengths and weaknesses.


According to Nancy Bearg, co-author of Reboot Your Life: Energizing Your Career and Life by Taking Break, a corporate sabbatical program can give the employee an opportunity to rediscover old interests and friends, travel, explore new ideas, get fit, work on a special project, and much more. It helps broaden perspectives and make priorities clearer on all spheres of life.


Ideally, no team should be dependent on one single individual to the point where everything comes to a halt when the so-called experienced individual goes on an extended leave. When the individual takes a sabbatical, the rest of the team has to pitch in to do the duties that the person usually handles. Essentially, this provides the rest of the team to pitch in to do better. At the same time, it provides younger and less experienced employees to take on new tasks and expand their skill sets.

What is your company’s policy on sabbaticals? How do you encourage employees to take a vacation?

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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