Have you ever thought about taking a sabbatical but weren’t sure whether it could be a serious option for you? Maybe you thought your employer wouldn’t allow it or that you don’t have a good enough reason to qualify for one.

Well, we’re here to tell you a sabbatical is much more than just taking some time off work. It’s also a time to recharge your batteries, learn a new skill or simply to spend more time with your family.

In this blog we will discuss possible reasons for taking a sabbatical and how to approach your boss when it comes to asking for one.

What is a sabbatical?

‘The term sabbatical actually is derived from the biblical Sabbath which serves an ancient human need to build periods of rest and rejuvenation into a lifetime. Traditionally you’ll find sabbaticals in academic careers, but they are not just for teachers anymore. Anyone can take a sabbatical and travel. A sabbatical is simply getting an extended leave from work to pursue a break.’ – meetplango.com

Think about why you want a sabbatical

Before you consider approaching your boss about a sabbatical you need to decide why you actually want one. Do you have a project you’d like to work on or do you simply need some time off work to take care of your health?

Whatever the reason may be, having as much information as possible to argue your case will help you make a more clear and honest pitch. It’s a decision that can’t be made overnight and don’t forget most sabbaticals aren’t paid for, so take your time before you reach a conclusion.  

Speak to other people

Try to find friends or coworkers who have also taken a sabbatical and ask them how they went about it. What was the process for them? What advice can they offer you? Would they do anything differently if they were given the opportunity again?

It’s also a good idea to speak to people who maybe didn’t get their sabbatical request approved. Ask them why they were unsuccessful and what they did next. All this information will be incredibly invaluable moving forward so get as much advice as you possibly can.

Take time to plan your pitch

Research is key when it comes to asking for a sabbatical and although everyone’s circumstances will be different, it’s important to be thorough with your approach. If there is a specific programme you’d like to do, make sure you have all the details written down so you can present this information to your employer at the time of your pitch.

Have a clear outline of why you want a sabbatical. What will you gain from it and how will it help you to progress in your chosen career? Your employer is likely to ask you these questions during your meeting, but having your answers already prepared will show you have thought about it seriously.

Your employer’s top priority will likely be to have the most productive and efficient employees possible, so if your reasons for a sabbatical will benefit the company in the long run, make sure you highlight that. If it not only benefits the company but it also adds to your professional development, it’s a double win!

Understand the difference between a sabbatical and a career break

A sabbatical and a career break both involve long periods of time away from the workplace but there are a few differences. Things like being paid and pension contributions may be suspended when you’re on a sabbatical, but employees eventually return to their jobs after the sabbatical period is complete.

A career break may be taken when a sabbatical is not an option. In essence, the employee is handing in their notice but it doesn’t stop them from returning to work later on. In a nutshell, it is a break from your career because often you’ll find people choose career breaks to focus on personal interests.

Every company has a different policy when it comes to sabbaticals and career breaks, but whatever your employer offers you, make sure you have all the information laid out clearly and put your request in writing so it’s official.

Reasons to take a sabbatical

– Break away from routine

If you’ve been in a job for a long period of time it’s easy to feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Rather than just throwing the towel in, consider a sabbatical as a way of rejuvenating your career. It will make your return to work more purposeful and you’ll be in a clearer mindset to carry on.

– Improve your health

If you have a long-term condition, a sabbatical could be a great way to rest and relax. Rather than getting up for work everyday you could use your time off to recover at your own leisure.

Equally, if your condition is mental rather than physical, a sabbatical could be just what you need to get yourself back on track. Use the time to look after yourself and focus on positive things that make you feel motivated.

– Do something fulfilling

If your company doesn’t offer voluntary programmes and you wish to do some charity work, a sabbatical could be the best option. Your involvement will have a lasting impact on disadvantaged people and will be a fulfilling and rewarding experience.

– Get experience

This is quite an important reason for people who cannot gain the skills they need in their current role. A sabbatical allows you time to train, do courses and take part in projects outside your working routine.  

– Travel

Cultural experiences are vital for a number of reasons, particularly for those who are taking a sabbatical due to a mental health condition. However, some people simply want to see the world and limited annual leave doesn’t always give you the freedom to explore different cultures.