Sabbatical - 4 steps to a way forward!
Sabbaticals can be a great way to impact retention, productivity and innovation among Gen Y
The term sabbatical is like an old wine in a new bottle in the business world. It has been there since decades but sabbatical programs as such are relatively rare, especially in the Asian countries. It is still a growing trend among Asian companies and it takes a while to get attuned with these employee benefits economically. With the new generation (Gen Y) entering into the workforce it has become even more essential to have a sabbatical program as a part of the retention strategies.
Sabbatical is referred to as a period of extended leave over and above the normal paid annual leave sometimes to enhance knowledge and skills, but it can also mean taking leave for family time, hobbies, travel, sports, or rejuvenating oneself. The employees who have served the company for more than 5 to 7 years are eligible for sabbatical leave. Sabbatical policy should include what employment benefits are to continue during the employee’s absence at work. Sabbatical can act as recruitment and retention strategy if the organization can package it with the other benefits offered to the candidate. Sabbatical serves as a positive purpose in fast-paced industries where it can be a battle to encourage the employees to take leave of any kind.
We spend more than one third of our time in the workplace. The term productivity today has been a key to the success of many businesses but they fail to understand that introducing sabbatical program can help employees gain perspective and return to work with a stronger commitment to the company. It will also help the employee to re-energize and rejuvenate which will in turn boost the employee productivity.
To create a psychologically healthier workforce we should encourage employees to take breaks and come back rejuvenated. This helps them to be more creative and innovative. Sometimes the best way to get out of a furrow is by doing a deep brain detox (take a break) to recharge your innovation battery.
It’s not only a challenge for an organization to offer sabbatical but it’s also difficult for the employees to adapt to this concept. Some overachievers and workaholics might be hesitant to leave, believing they are so invaluable they can’t be away even for a while; that’s an ego as well as fear and insecurity. The sabbatical goer should get over them. In order to tackle such issues many organizations with sabbatical programs make participation mandatory for the employees. For those left behind, a sabbatical means developing a plan to seamlessly pick up a colleague’s work. For the organization or employer, sabbaticals require an investment in scheduling and planning, and may result in lost revenue. But some organizations have found that the benefits outweigh the costs.
The fundamentals to a successful sabbatical program are market research, top-management support, a well-crafted policy, unambiguous objectives, clearly defined communication and re-entry processes. Sabbaticals are appropriate for any size firm. Small firms as well as large firms can benefit with proper planning. The cost of a sabbatical program depends, partly, on the level and function of the person going on extended leave. Commonly costs are calculated in terms of the salary paid and the revenues lost. Following are some simple guidelines of implementing a sabbatical policy in an organization.
- Conduct an employee survey to determine the relevance and importance of sabbaticals as a benefit before introducing them. Research shows that the desire for sabbaticals as an employment benefit varies depending on the industry.
- During remuneration negotiations add real dollar value on sabbaticals as a part of recruitment strategy to be an employer of choice.
- Be flexible to swap the other benefits with sabbatical as a part of retention strategy to gain a competitive advantage during hiring process.
- Clear documentation of terms and conditions on sabbaticals.