Pretty tough jobs, nuclear families, growing inflation, and improving lifestyles – all these factors have pushed us towards working for more than 8 hours a day! Most of the young blood, in this era, start their corporate life at the age of 20-22. And hence, no doubt, it’s easy to identify people who dislike their job and wish to quit or take a break from their career for a while.

Imagine a little different scenario, what if you actually love your job, but simply you are tired and exhausted after working for continuous 10-15 years. How can you come out of a monotonous routine, and re-energize yourself with a completely new perspective and possible new skill-sets? Any idea?

Yes, you are right, the answer is sabbatical…there are times when simple vacation of few days or few weeks won’t solve the problem, you indeed need a genuine break.

The dictionary meaning of sabbatical suggests any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training.

Global common reasons for taking sabbatical are: rediscovering self, focusing on health and rejuvenation, spending quality family time, and traveling and exploring new places. 

What is the best age to take a sabbatical?

Well, obviously there is no practically best time; you just have to pick the best time for you! Do not forget, you can always take more than one career break, it’s completely up to you.

However, according to one school of thought, the late 30s are the preferred age period for taking a sabbatical.

At that age, you’re more likely to have a stability in life and you may have developed Plan B of your earning source. Conversely, you might be concerned about your financial obligations, especially home loans and kids’ education, at that age. So, first ensure that you have sufficient finance to run these needs and then think upon your decision. It also depends upon the income of your spouse, does s/he earning a good amount which can take care of all contingencies?

How to plan a sabbatical?

Exercise these simple four steps and plan your sabbatical:

plan a sabbatical

One important concern here is while you are on sabbatical, ensure that you are approachable as well as you are not losing on your key skills. One of the major drawbacks of joining back after a sabbatical is you might lose out on the team with whom you used to work.

 “As they say: out of sight is out of mind.”

 

There is a high probability of getting placed in a different department and maybe in a diverse role. Losing position which you have made as an outcome of your sincere efforts is a psychological pain.  Sometimes, it is perceived as a lack of professionalism if you find it hard fitting in a new role or a new team. This is obviously a professional setback.

There are companies which offer sabbaticals subject to the employee’s commitment to upgrade themselves and add value to the organisation once they are back to the desk. Prestigious and big organizations like Nike and Newsweek, have offered months-long leaves at either full or partial remuneration.

Do remember, most of the employers who approve sabbatical are mostly unpaid.

Firms like Imre Communications of Baltimore, Maryland, offer two weeks extra paid time off every few years, more a kind of bonus vacation rather a sabbatical.

For how long you should take a sabbatical?

Sabbatical allows you to enjoy the break and join back the same organisation with the same designation (could be in a different department) and same remuneration. Organisations will not prefer their employees taking a significant longer break at the workplace. Most common period of sabbatical ranges from two months to one year. Furthermore, sabbaticals are approved on the basis of the reasons you mention while applying for the same. Is it for travel purpose? Is it for acquiring new professional qualification? Do you want a break to spend time with family? And many more…

On the basis of your reason to take sabbatical and company policies, organisations grant your request. It may happen that you are a key employee and your company cannot afford your complete absence for a longer period. At times, they do put a clause in your sabbatical that you need to be approachable when required. This scenario is the best since you are in touch with your team as well as you are enjoying your much-needed self-time.

Pros and cons of sabbatical

All good things come with certain conditions. Sabbatical is also subject to pros and cons.

The best thing is your resume won’t show any gap and you will still be considered as an ‘employee’ of your organisation, whether you are getting paid or not. You can reenergize and rejuvenate yourself. A fresh and rejuvenated start with the same colleagues and same organisation is no lesser than icing on the cake since you have already settled there.

However, in this fast pace world, things do change at a lightning speed. There could be organisational changes in terms of working methodologies, processes and deliverables. You might need to take few trainings to get in line with your colleagues. At the same time, in case you have acquired additional knowledge during your sabbatical, you can share the same with your team and make the most use of it.

The grey area here is you might not be welcomed with the same warm hearts. There could be little step-motherly treatment with you by your colleagues since they had walked hand in hand with the organisation and you have joined them on the way. To avoid such issues, it is advisable to be in touch with your most near colleagues, with whom you work closely, during your off period.

What works better -sabbatical or career break

Although the terms “sabbatical” and “career break” are often interchangeable, the former tends to be used to refer to a short period of leave of absence from work of several weeks or months, while the latter is usually used to refer to a longer period of absence, possibly spanning several years. – XpertHR

 

In the cases, when your sabbatical for few weeks or months is not approved, you may need to quit your job with no guarantee that your employer will welcome you back. This is called career break, a small or a required amount of break you took in your professional career.

Sabbaticals are more popular among Americans; whereas, career break is a common perception across the globe.

 

In case, companies don’t have sabbatical policies, you need to resign and go ahead with a career break. Here, there is no compulsion of your date of joining back, your position or your remuneration, since your leave letter will perform the role of your resignation letter. You can give a completely fresh start once you decide to go back to the desk.

Closing thoughts

Employers’ attitudes are changing as they’re realising that, in order to retain good employees, they may have to release them for a certain period of time. The organisation may benefit from an employee who returns with new skills, such as a new language or a professional qualification. In addition, the employee is likely to have a renewed and refreshed attitude to work.

Have you ever opted for either sabbatical or career break? How was your experience? Feel free to share in the comments section!


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