Sabbaticals: 77 Companies That Offer Them And Why They're Good for Employees and Employers

sabbatical

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What is a Sabbatical? And How is It Different Than a Career Break?

Sabbaticals used to be something that mainly happened in the academic world. Professors or researchers who had been heavily focused on one area of study would customarily take a sabbatical, which would involve paid time time off they would use to recharge and refocus on a different set of issues or area of study. Today, however, sabbaticals are pauses in regular employment that are sponsored by an employer but do not necessarily have any single motivation. They also are generally unpaid breaks in employment, though employees typically understand that their position will be held for them until they return to work.

A career break is typically defined as something where an employee takes time off, but without the official sanction of an employer, nor the right to return to work. A career break usually implies someone has quit or been fired, and simply has no plans to return to work in the near future. Sabbaticals are generally far less risky in the sense that both the employee and employer intend to return back to an employment relationship.

Why Do Employers Offer Sabbaticals?

Sabbaticals are one interesting way employers can address employee burn-out and reduce high stress level sand staff turnover. The average American worker will work over 40 years in her career. That’s a lot of time for any one person to put into work, so it’s no wonder that some feel burned out during some parts of those years. Taking a career break is another obvious alternative, but many people understandably worry about leaving the security of a job and paycheck and so do not end up quitting. That’s why sabbaticals are such an interesting benefit and seemingly so beloved by the employees who take them.

Sabbaticals can be used as a retention tool, and are typically associated with older employees who may use the paid or unpaid time off to travel, rest, or spend quality time with family and friends. Some even use their sabbatical time to explore other hobbies or interests. Unlike generic banks of paid time off benefits, usually sabbaticals involve a prolonged period of time away where there is no pressure or expectation to stay involved with their jobs on a day-to-day basis. From an employer’s perspective, while it may be scary to let a tenured employee go for an extended period of time, it’s also an opportunity to let some junior employees step up their game by temporarily taking on additional responsibilities.

How Common Are Sabbaticals?

All in all, sabbaticals are still a relatively unusual benefit in America. Estimates of the percentage of companies that offer sabbaticals range from 19-23%, and typically larger employers are more easily able to offer (and afford) these benefits. Those companies that do offer sabbaticals typically do so in order to reward employee loyalty and/or to reduce burn-out. This typically means that only those employees who have been with the company for several years are eligible take advantage of the perk.

Sabbaticals can be paid or unpaid, though some research suggest that 2/3 of those companies that sabbaticals offer unpaid time off, rather than the paid variety. While it’s hard to uncover a truly comprehensive list of employers that offer sabbatical leave, or the exact details regarding any particular company’s sabbatical policy, we did find that the following 77 companies offered some sort of sabbatical policy, according to publicly available sources:

  1. Accenture
  2. Adobe
  3. American Century Investments
  4. Alston & Bird
  5. American Express
  6. Arthrex
  7. T. Kearney
  8. Autodesk
  9. Baker Donelson
  10. Birchbox
  11. Blue Cross Blue Shield
  12. Boston Consulting Group
  13. Capterra
  14. CDW
  15. Centro
  16. Charles Schwab
  17. Clif Bar
  18. David Weekley Homes
  19. Deloitte
  20. Dow Jones
  21. eBay
  22. Edelman
  23. Edelman Financial Services
  24. Edward Jones
  25. Emma
  26. Federal Express
  27. Genetech
  28. General Mills
  29. Google
  30. Goldman Sachs
  31. Hallmark
  32. Hyland Software
  33. IBM
  34. Infosys
  35. Intel
  36. Intertech
  37. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
  38. McDonald’s
  39. MEC
  40. MeetUp
  41. Men’s Wearhouse
  42. Microsoft
  43. Morgan Stanley
  44. MorningStar
  45. Nike
  46. Nordstrom
  47. PayPal
  48. Perkins Coie
  49. Plante & Moran
  50. PricewaterhouseCoopers
  51. Principled Technologies
  52. Quad/Graphics
  53. QuikTrip
  54. Rackspace Hosting
  55. Rally Software
  56. Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)
  57. Renewable NRG Systems
  58. Republic Bancorp
  59. Robert W. Baird
  60. Roche Carolina
  61. Ruby Receptionists
  62. Russell Investments
  63. Ryan
  64. Salesforce
  65. SAP
  66. S.C. Johnson
  67. Seventh Generation
  68. Silicon Graphics
  69. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  70. The Cheesecake Factory
  71. The Container Store
  72. The Motley Fool
  73. Thoughtworks
  74. Timberland
  75. VMware
  76. Waggener Edstrom
  77. Wegman’s

If we’ve missed a company, or you find an error in our data (e.g. because a historical sabbatical program has been phased out), or your employer has recently decided to offer sabbatical leave, please drop us a line at info@fairygodboss and we will add the correct information to this list!

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