Burnout is a global problem. It’s a psychological condition that manifests as emotional exhaustion and fatigue. It is caused by workplace stress that is improperly managed. The World Health Organisation states that burnout is characterised by the following:
- Low energy
- Negative feelings toward working
- Low productivity
- Brain fog
Pandemic-related stress has also contributed to burnout. Due to the economic turmoil since it started, many individuals have had to take extra jobs to survive. This can lead to higher rates of employee turnover. In the US, companies experienced the Great Resignation, where 7.1 million people quit their jobs between April 2021 and April 2022.
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Further research shows that burnout affects mental health even if the job is high-ranking and well-paying. Many feel that paid time off and vacations could help stave off burnout. But vacations aren’t always relaxing; workers often return to even more work with less patience.
Studies by the Harvard Business Review show that a vacation isn’t enough to deal with burnout, but a sabbatical is. Sabbaticals are planned extended time away from work lasting months. Companies offer both paid and unpaid sabbaticals. When people take sabbaticals, they return to work refreshed with positive changes in their work and life.
Types of sabbaticals
Companies create guidelines for the sabbatical program. Employees also create boundaries and devise a sabbatical program that benefits both. According to the Harvard Business Review, these are the main types of sabbaticals.
1. Working holiday
This is when employees take a break to work on a passion project, like working on a novel or conducting a major study. It combines deep work and complete rest that allows workers to reset. They also build confidence among workers who return to their jobs surefooted. In addition, they become better leaders and firmly establish boundaries to reject extra roles or work that affects their work-life balance.
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2. Free dives
Workers often leave work and go on an exploratory journey. They travel to far destinations to try and recharge. From hiking distant mountains or backpacking across a remote area, workers can reflect and reconnect with themselves. It improves self-worth and prevents employees from moulding themselves into an image acceptable to their employers. They live with more authenticity, acknowledge their limits and stop placing their self-worth on their jobs.
This is a sabbatical where burnout and toxic workspaces push workers out of work. The job was no longer sustainable, and a drastic change was needed. They start slowly to enable recovery. The schedule involves sleeping in, eating better, making time to read, playing video games, indulging in creative hobbies, and meeting with family and friends. They also participate in non-routine work. Usually, people taking quest sabbaticals don’t return to their old jobs.
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How to choose the best sabbatical
Examine your life and see what you need the most. Do you need time away from work to focus on a passion project, or do you need to change your current work life drastically? Will you be working? A sabbatical for healing would be best without any work. However, if your company only offers unpaid sabbaticals, you may need to find gig work to avoid consuming your savings. But choosing a simple role can help avoid another monotonous routine job.
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Will you be going alone on sabbatical? If you have a family, will you travel with them? Most extreme hikes or backpacking adventures may be more profound if you go alone. However, mixing a brief family holiday with hikes can help you reconnect with your family and still make time for self-reflection.
How do sabbaticals benefit employers?
Many companies tend to believe that giving workers extended leave means they won’t return. However, workers on working holidays or free dive sabbaticals will most likely return with even better productivity.
Employers can make sabbaticals a win-win situation where they and workers benefit from the sabbatical. This can be an agreement to do periodic check-ins or offering paid sabbatical. Workers are more likely to return and be grateful to work at an organisation if an employer is willing to let workers get what they need to heal from burnout.
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