Are you at a career crossroads? You know you can’t continue as you are, but you’re not sure what to do instead. Should you make a career change, find a new job or start a business? What if we told you there’s another option that involves taking a break from your job for a few months with the option to return to it if you want? And you may even be able to get your boss to pay for it. Sounds perfect, right? It’s called a sabbatical and it could be what you need right now. Here’s how to take a sabbatical from work.
What is a sabbatical leave from work?
A sabbatical is an extended break from work. It’s typically organised in collaboration with your employer with the aim of giving you an opportunity to explore new areas of your life. A sabbatical is sometimes paid and can last between a couple of months and a year.
Who can benefit from a sabbatical
Anyone can benefit from a sabbatical, but it’ can be a game-changing experience for anyone who enjoys their job, but feels stuck in a rut or close to burnout. Taking an extended break can be a great way to give you some perspective and an opportunity to recharge before returning to work with a new sense of drive and purpose.
Of course, taking a sabbatical isn’t the same as an extended holiday. To get your employer on board, you’ll need to do something focused and beneficial with your time off. Travelling, volunteering or studying are common ways to make use of this time away from work.
Taking an extended break can be a great way to give you some perspective and an opportunity to recharge before returning to work with a new sense of drive and purpose.
How can I tell if it’s time to take a sabbatical?
Do you need to take a sabbatical from work? Answer the following questions to find out.
- Do you enjoy your work but feel like you’re currently struggling to cope?
- Do you have goals you’d like to achieve but can’t do so while maintaining your current job?
- Do you feel under stress?
- Are you experiencing physical symptoms of stress, such as low mood, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and sleeping problems?
- Are you ready to progress in your career but need to acquire new skills?
Answering yes to two or more of these questions suggests that now could be a good time to take a sabbatical.
How can I convince my employer to let me take a sabbatical?
According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, the number of companies offering sabbaticals is on the rise. This means that your chances of success are higher now than they’ve ever been. But to successfully convince your employer to let you take a sabbatical, you’ll need to plan well.
Begin by checking your employment contract. It’s not common, but there may be a term that discusses taking extended time away from work. If there are no clear rules about sabbaticals, you’ll need to get strategic.
First of all, remember that getting someone else to do your job while you disappear for months on end is a big inconvenience to your employer. It’s often easier for your employer to terminate your contract and employ someone who doesn’t want to take a sabbatical than hire temporary cover or pay you to not work. This means that you should only ask for a sabbatical if:
- you’ve made yourself indispensable at work. You’ll need to do great work and your boss should feel like you’re an asset to the company
- you’ve worked out all the details. From how long you’ll be away from work to what you’ll do with your time off, you’ll need to show your employer that you’ve thought things through properly
- you’ve got suggestions about who could do your work while you’re away
- you’ve devised a strong argument that shows your boss how taking a sabbatical will benefit the company in the long-term. Think laterally. Could a sabbatical improve your productivity, could it help you develop the skills you need to take on new responsibilities that the company is currently outsourcing?
- you have a plan B to turn to if your boss says no… and be prepared to follow through on that plan. Will you stay at work (and pretend it never happened), will you quit your job, will you negotiate a shorter period of time off work or some sort of remote working to allow you to do things like travel or study? Having a back up plan will show your employer that you’re serious and as they have already said no to one request, they’ll be more likely to consider your plan B in order to appear fair
Your chances of success are higher now than they’ve ever been. But to successfully convince your employer to let you take a sabbatical, you’ll need to plan well.
How can I get paid to take a sabbatical?
While a paid sabbatical is the Holy Grail, the reality is that most are unpaid. You can maximise your chances of a paid career break by proposing to use your time away from work to do something that directly benefits your employer. This could be gaining an advanced qualification that will help you move to a top management position or take over a project that’s integral to the success of the company. Carrying out work-related research is another effective way of getting paid to go on a sabbatical.
What happens if I decide I don’t want to go back to my job?
At present, there is no law that deals with sabbaticals. This means that what happens at the end of your sabbatical depends entirely on the contract you made with your employer to confirm your career break. Make sure that this contract is a written agreement that outlines what happens if you leave the company after your sabbatical and make sure it is been signed by both parties before you set off on your sabbatical.
So, do you think a sabbatical could be what you need right now?
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