Employees are placing a greater emphasis than ever on work-life balance, and more progressive employers are responding with alternative work arrangements, such as flextime, telecommuting, and compressed work weeks. According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, about 20 percent of U.S. companies are taking work-life balance even further by offering employee sabbaticals – either unpaid (16%) or paid (4%) – in addition to standard vacation benefits.
The reasons for doing this might differ from company to company, but at OxBlue it’s an opportunity for our workforce to rejuvenate in a way that’s not possible with a one- or two-week vacation. We offer a month-long paid sabbatical after every 5 years of service, and we find it benefits both the employee and the company.
Employees return with renewed focus.
Nothing undermines motivation, creativity, and engagement like burnout. After a long break, employees return refreshed and focused, and often with new perspectives and insights into their work.
Teams expand their capabilities.
When someone is on an extended leave, others have to take on his or her work. This is a great opportunity for everyone to broaden their capabilities, form new collaborations, and even bring new ways of seeing things that help drive innovation. As a company, we get to assess how prepared we are to perform without impacting our clients in the event of an unexpected prolonged absence.
Sabbaticals help attract and retain valuable talent.
It’s not unusual for younger talent to stay with a company for only a year or two, diminishing the employer’s return on the investment in onboarding and training them. Sabbaticals based on length of employment protect that investment by encouraging employees to stay for an extended amount of time.
Regardless of age or how long an employee has been with a company, working for an employer who truly values work-life balance goes a long way toward promoting loyalty and commitment. While offering sabbaticals might seem extreme to many employers, we see it as a way to keep our company – workforce included – healthy, innovative, and focused on growth.