Mental health has finally become a key concern in the workplace, but with 1 in 6 workers suffering from conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress, coupled with companies losing staff in the so-called ‘Great Resignation’, there is still more to be done. So could sabbaticals be the answer?
In our recent podcast episode, we share the benefits of career breaks and how they can contribute to a stronger and more successful workforce.
What is a Sabbatical?
With the upheaval of the previous two years prompting many to reassess their roles, sabbaticals are proving to be a valuable way for employees to take time off from work to focus on personal aims and interests. For leaders in particular, they can be an ideal remedy to workplace stress.
As there are no set guidelines to sabbaticals by law, the terms can be unique to staff and companies. Time off can be anything from a month to two years, paid or unpaid, and for any purpose, whether it be travel or volunteering, to study or simply to relax.
How Can Sabbaticals Benefit Employees?
The main advantage for employees is the chance to step back from routine to reassess the work-life balance. It can be hard to disconnect while on holiday, with the opportunity to check emails all too easy. Having a longer period away can provide the physical and mental space to truly switch off.
For Matthew Pickthall, a senior manager at Tesco, taking a one-year sabbatical allowed him to spend more time with his family, improve his fitness, and even learn about wine. Speaking on our podcast, Matthew says, “in any [size] company, you talked about rest; that rest usually comes too late.” It’s a common story, but a sabbatical can help to prevent burnout before the damage is done.
How Can Sabbaticals Benefit Employers?
For many millennials, the idea of a ‘job for life’ is a relic of the past. Businesses therefore need to keep in mind that employees may ‘get itchy feet quicker than their predecessors’. By encouraging sabbaticals, staff feel more supported and return to work with increased motivation.
Sabbaticals can also help pave the way for succession within a business, as Janet and Matt discuss in the podcast. During staff absences, managers can take the time to assess team roles, allow others to take on new tasks, and find more productive ways of working.
As Matthew notes, it is vital to plan ahead and have open conversations with managers, co-workers, and HR departments. The latter need to ensure there are clear policies on criteria for sabbaticals, agreements of terms and conditions, and plans for staffing during the interim.
Ethical Support for Every Professional
Sabbaticals can also prompt changes for both employees and employers, whether that means moving on to a new role or looking for a new member of a team. For an ethical approach to recruitment, contact our team today.