Part 6: Why Sabbaticals Work

R&R 2.0 Series
Part 6: Why Sabbaticals Work

Looking for the perfect “win-win” in terms of work and life balance for high-performing individuals and sustained growth and profits for your organization?

… an opportunity for you and your team to enjoy more personal and professional growth and renewed passion and excitement?  

… an opportunity for your organization to create more engagement, resilience, depth, and loyalty?

Sabbaticals are the answer.

A well-designed and implemented sabbatical program is a simple and effective way to combat the growing epidemic of burnout and disengagement in today’s workplace and ensure your organization’s success over the long-term… and, at least right now, it can position you to be different, better, and more attractive in the marketplace.   

The Benefits

The following are some of the benefits of an effective sabbatical program:


1. Planned Refresh Cycles

High-achieving professionals and business owners are human too… and top leaders and organizations realize this.

More than ever, we need routine refresh cycles… and we likely need them every 5 to 7 years!

Routine “refreshes” are needed to push off our eventual peaking and declining phases as much as possible.  

Refreshes are also needed to combat the ill-effects of the all-consuming nature of work and life today.

A well-timed refresh will allow us to Restore, Rediscover, Retarget, and Revitalize aspects of our personal and professional lives, and help us reverse and avoid the Burnout-Disengagement Cycle.  It will also allow us to think bigger and more strategically about work and life.  

Even if we are consistent with taking our “PTO” (personal time off) and have initiated a “daily PTO” (personal time-out), as presented in Part 1 of this series, a well-designed sabbatical takes our personal and professional growth opportunities to a whole new level.  

This planned one, two, three, or four-month period away allows us to be able to focus on aspects of our lives that we may have neglected and need to re-establish, as well as aspects that we may need to regain perspective on and appreciation for.

Doing so will help us live a full life with less regrets and discontent.  

This time away can also be specifically designed to increase our overall awareness and emotional intelligence… both of which improve our ability to connect and relate to others and our performance as employees, leaders, and client-servers upon our return to work.

A routine sabbatical is even more critical for those of us who are, and have been, less diligent with either form of “PTO”.  This is where a caring and strategic leadership team can make a real difference for its top talent and for its organization.

“An effective sabbatical program would have gone a long way to keep me engaged in my former firm and career as it was.”

– Peter C. Atherton

… and while top talent is refreshing, top organizations have the opportunity to benefit, especially in the areas of resilience testing, succession planning, and internal development – areas that are often overlooked, postponed, or abandoned in our busyness.  

2. Designed Resilience Testing and Succession Planning

Key-person “protection” and the identification and development of future leaders is essential to propel organizations forward and improve value for all stakeholders.

An effective sabbatical program can be designed to provide key-person protection and organization resilience testing in a planned and methodical manner… without an emergency.

Such a program can also be designed to continuously identify key-person successors and provide targeted opportunities to further develop and “test drive” this leadership talent throughout an organization while others are away.

3. Designed Teamwork and Engagement

What happens at the highest levels of any organization filters into all levels, and forms the basis for its culture in terms of trust, engagement, and performance.  

An effective sabbatical program can be designed to help establish the type of culture desired by targeting senior-level talent, including operational boards of directors and executive management teams.

Well in advance of one’s time away, an effective strategy requires peer-to-peer teamwork, collaboration, and reciprocity to ensure all internal and external needs are met during the sabbatical.  

This builds awareness and improves communication, trust, and camaraderie amongst senior leaders.

The program would also require one’s staff development to be a priority in order to ensure smooth operations while away.  This would build engagement and loyalty within the team, especially with the “high-potentials” who are likely to be looking forward to these opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities and shine.

4. Differentiator in the Marketplace and Recruiting Space

All things being equal….

Who wouldn’t want to work for a leadership team who cares enough about the long-term growth and development of its top talent and organization that it offers sabbaticals?  

What client wouldn’t want to be served by an organization that offers great teamwork, engagement, growth, loyalty, leadership, and stability?  

It’s really a no-brainer!

The only real question is how best to do so in the context of our talent and our organization.

Act Now to Win

The benefits of an effective sabbatical program, especially in professional service organizations, are so clear that it is just a matter of time before your competitors develop one as an essential strategy to attract, engage, develop, and retain top talent.

Don’t be left behind.

An effective program is one aspect of an organization’s overall performance management and employee engagement and development strategy.  

Systematically working through the I.M.P.A.C.T. Process can be an effective method for developing and refining this overall strategy.

Designing systems for your best talent to be their best-selves will position your organization to be its best-self… and will position you to win in both the marketplace and the “talent war”.

To your winning,

PS – Ready to stop feeling burned-out, disengaged, and that you are missing out?  Check out: 7-weeks to Preventing and Reversing Burnout Fast Start Program   

PSS – Click HERE… and then just sit back and listen to one of the most important chapters in “Reversing Burnout” for FREE.  Learn more about the realities of work and life today and how you can reverse and avoid the “Burnout-Disengagement Cycle”.

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Pete Atherton

About the Author

Pete is the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, and creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process.  ActionsProve works with leaders and organizations to create greater growth and profits through better strategic planning, executive coaching, leadership and management development, performance-based employee engagement, and corporate impact design.  Prior to founding ActionsProve, and for more than 20 years, Pete was a very successful and accomplished professional engineer.  Pete sold his engineering firm ownership to focus on designing systems for you and your organization to grow and succeed in the 21st century. Pete is also host of the AEC Leadership Today podcast.

For a more expansive biography and experience summary.

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Are you feeling overwhelmed, or are you burning out?

There is a big difference and each requires a different approach. Take this FREE quiz to find out where you stand and learn exactly how you (and your team!) can get back on track.

R&R 2.0 Series – Part 6: Why Sabbaticals Work