Taking a break from the daily grind:
How to take a sabbatical

Breakfast, early start, work late, get home. Day in, day out.

In general, your daily routine doesn’t change much once you have entered the working world, especially in a corporate job. Many professionals choose to break out of this routine and volunteer abroad. If you are looking to do something different and change up the routine of your daily life, a sabbatical might just be what you are looking for.

What is a sabbatical?

Generally speaking, a sabbatical is when you agree with your employer to take some time off from work. It is a formal process that is usually outlined in the company’s sabbatical policy. The amount of time taken off, the financial obligations of the employer during that time, and the logistics upon return are outlined in this policy. Usually, you can return to your previous job upon the completion of the sabbatical.

What do I do on my sabbatical?

That is completely up to you. You can use the time to explore the world, reconnect with your family, or learn new skills. Many people take sabbaticals to volunteer abroad, share their skills and learn new ones, and make a difference in local communities. A sabbatical is a great opportunity for you to re-assess where you are heading, take the time to work on your bucket list, or accomplish great personal and professional growth by stepping out of your comfort zone and gaining new experiences.

Are sabbaticals paid?

It depends. The financial details of each sabbatical are negotiated between you and your employer. It is common policy to offer unpaid sabbatical to employees, as the firm has to finance a replacement during your time away. Often pension contribution and other perks are put to rest during your sabbatical as well.

Paid sabbaticals are rare, and often only offered to academics for research projects, or for long period of service (e.g. 25 years) in the corporate world. You therefore have to carefully prepare for your sabbatical, and make sure that you save for it.

What’s the difference between a sabbatical and a career break?

The words ‘sabbatical’ and ‘career break’ are often used interchangeably. Whilst both of them describe time off work to change your normal routine, they are completely different in other aspects. In contrast to a sabbatical, a career break usually involves resigning/quitting your job. This allows you to take time off and explore other options for as long as you want (and can afford). Some career changers do not end up returning to their regular work and job, but change industries, set up their own business, become freelancers, or digital nomads.

How do I take a sabbatical?

First, you need to check whether your company already has a sabbatical policy. The process of taking a sabbatical will differ depending on your company policy.

If your Company has a Sabbatical Policy

Find out all the details and procedures related to taking a sabbatical with your company. Look into the forms and documents you need to complete, who you have to inform, timelines, and what the policies are regarding financial arrangements and return logistics.

Once you know all the details, you can set up a meeting with your manager. Make sure you are prepared, including knowing answers to questions regarding the length of the sabbatical, hand-over procedures, what skills you are planning to bring back, and what job you will step into upon return.

During the meeting ensure that you can outline the benefits of a sabbatical, to you and the company. Make yourself indispensable, and underline your loyalty to the company.

If Your Company Doesn’t have a Sabbatical Policy

Just because your employer has not offered a sabbatical before, doesn’t mean it is impossible. It will be worth a try to mention the concept to your manager and the reasons why you want to take one. Talk about the new skills and experiences you would bring back to the company on your return and the benefits it would have to your role. Be confident, but show flexibility. Understand that there might be seasonal restrictions related to your job or industry that might not let you take a sabbatical during certain times. If your sabbatical is approved, make sure you get the agreement in writing, to avoid surprises upon your return.

Are you looking to take a sabbatical and share your skills? Take time off to volunteer your skills in India, advance in your career, learn new skills and make a long lasting impact. Contact us at info@skilledimpact.com to start planning your sabbatical abroad.

By Bella Buchmann