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Are you looking to recharge? Want some time away from work to tackle side projects? Or hoping to further your skill set to make you better at your job? then a sabbatical could be the right move for you.
A sabbatical usually refers to a full-time employee's extended leave or career pause of at least two months. In general, employees use it to complete some body of work, such as research or writing. Sabbaticals may be paid or unpaid, but they usually involve the guarantee of a position being held open with the stipulation that the employer will allow employees to return to work at the end of it.
Some companies offer sabbaticals, while others may be open to the idea of sabbaticals if employees make propositions.
Sabbatical actually started as a biblical term from ancient Hebrew culture, which decreed that every seventh day should be a day of rest, and every seventh year should be a year of rest, to forgive debts, free those in bondage and servitude, and let the land fallow. Sabbatical comes from the word Sabbath, which literally means “rest.”
There are many benefits to taking a sabbatical.
Sabbaticals provide countless opportunities for you. Your activities don't even need to be related to your job. Here are some ideas for how to spend your sabbatical:
Many people think that you need to be at a certain level in your career or age to take a sabbatical, but that's because there are myths surrounding sabbaticals. Let's clear those up.
As with any perk you may request, it’s best to present the benefits and contributions your sabbatical will bring to the company, as opposed to the personal benefits it will provide you.
For companies, sabbaticals can be a great investment in key personnel, counter burn-out, or serve as an alternative to more traditional compensation package options; it can cut costs, if the employees are unpaid or receive partial pay for the duration of the leave; and it provides a great training ground for executive team members and junior staff or can serve as a test case of succession plans. Since the typical job tenure now is much shorter than in the past, sabbaticals are also a great way to reward a tenured employee for years of commitment to the organization. Go to your boss or board with a clear plan of how the work will continue in your absence and a description of the value this investment of time in one of its star performers will bring to the organization.
To make the most of your sabbatical, think about what you want to gain beyond a much-needed change of pace by disconnecting from work. If you're looking to expand to new markets, perhaps traveling and learning a new language is the way to go. If you're positioning yourself as a thought leader, develop that book idea. Whatever you decide, having a plan for your time away and for your transition back will assure the greatest gains for yourself and your company.
We're all struggling to find that mysterious balance between our work and personal lives. If you have this option, take it, use it, be enriched by it. When you return, advocate for the other women on your team and in your organization and community.
Broaching the conversation about your sabbatical can be intimidating. Start by researching and determining how you'll spend your sabbatical before creating a proposal in writing. Then schedule a meeting to discuss your idea.
You might begin the conversation by saying:
There are many resources, grants, and funding opportunities available for professionals looking to take a sabbatical. Look into government fellowships, scholarships and grants from private foundations or professional societies, and programs for people working in your industry. Here are other resources to help facilitate your sabbatical:
Kiyomi Appleton Gaines writes about work, life, culture, and fairy tales. Read more at a work of heart and follow @ThatKiyomi on Twitter.
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