Desperate for time off from work? A working sabbatical might be exactly what you need to revitalize your career.
If the idea of a sabbatical conjures up images of academic gentlemen in tweeds taking time away from lectures to catalogue the mating habits of newts or participate in an archaeological dig in Patagonia, you need to rethink.
Sabbaticals are moving into the mainstream of employee benefits — and you may be surprised to learn that many people considering them would prefer to take the time to jump into an exciting and enriching working sabbatical than lay on the beach.
Sabbatical or jobbatical?
A new Baltic startup, named Jobbatical, has caught this trend early and is paving the way for working sabbaticals to become a more common practice. The Estonian team has created a marketplace where those seeking short-term work are matched to companies looking for creative talent to take on a challenge or springboard a team to the next level before returning to their regular work.
The site, still in beta, has proved to be popular, especially with Millennial professionals signing up for a shot at one of the gigs in the creative and tech spheres.
The appeal is simple. Those taking jobbaticals get the best of both worlds — a chance to travel and see somewhere new, meet interesting and inspiring people, learn new skills, then return refreshed to the normal business of work — without the risks involved in resigning.
But until the inception of Jobbatical, sabbatical jobs tended to be aimed at either teenage gap year travelers or new graduates seeking internships — with little available for a mid-career professional seeking a different experience.
Travel and work combined
Sabbatical or career break policies aren’t uncommon employee benefits, but taking unpaid time away from work might seem unfeasible to many, despite the desire to travel.
The drain on resources caused by months of travel can be too much, especially for mid-career professionals who might have competing financial demands. This is why the idea of a working sabbatical can be a game changer.
The truth is, traveling exclusively doesn’t suit many career-minded people used to stretch and challenge, and being busy all day. A working sabbatical away from home can be a great alternative, as it combines an opportunity to get to know new people and places in a more meaningful way than as a tourist.
Why take a break?
Sabbaticals in all their forms have crossed over from academia to other sectors gradually in the past 20 years or so. But with GenY — who value experience and connection over status and remuneration — coming into more senior management positions, the value of sabbaticals has become more of a talking point.
Sabbaticals can be a great chance for employees to recharge their batteries, especially as the pace of working life continues to speed up. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Taking a break can enable longer serving employees to return with renewed vigor, focus and fresh eyes.
What’s in it for the employers?
The concept of jobbaticals works only when employers are on board and willing to allow their employees to take short, planned breaks from work to pursue other interests. For smart employers, offering sabbaticals is a simple choice.
Holding onto talented employees in a difficult market is crucial, and allowing high potential team members to take a short time off work is a better choice than forcing them to choose all or nothing. Add in the appeal of the new skills employees could return with and experience in a new and cross cultural environment, it seems like a win-win situation.
Sabbatical policies can also be used to support talent planning and development more broadly, with employees stepping up to fill the gap, as well as progressive policies on sabbatical leave being a useful tool in attracting and retaining top talent.
With potential benefits to all involved, it’s easy to see why the idea is gaining popularity. Perhaps in the next few years, a working sabbatical will become a popular way to refresh, relax and revitalize your longer term career prospects.
Claire Millard is a freelance writer and coach, currently taking a working sabbatical in Tallinn, Estonia, after ten years in senior leadership roles in retail and HR. When she’s not coaching or writing at Jobbatical and Careeraddict, you might find her bonding with her Estonian friends by murdering their native tongue and moaning about the weather.