This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

September 26, 2007

Sabbaticals---The Right Way

On numerous occasions in the past, we have written about sabbaticals. Originally offered to college educators, sabbaticals now provide employees of non-academic institutions with an opportunity to disconnect from their jobs for a period of between three months and one year. The purpose is to allow the individual to relax and rejuvenate so that they may avoid burnout and return to their jobs with renewed energy.

Reviewing this year's list of Fortune Magazine's 100 Best Places to Work®, there are 22 (surprisingly, down from 25 last year) companies that offer fully paid sabbaticals. The list of companies includes Adobe, American Express, Genentech, Bain & Co., REI, and others. There are many more companies not on Fortune's list offering sabbaticals as well. In fact, the benefits-consulting giant Watson Wyatt estimates about 20 percent of large companies offer this benefit.

While we have long declared the critical importance of training folks for many corporate activities, heretofore, we had overlooked the value of training people before they took sabbaticals. One of our colleagues, a fellow speaker, trainer, and consultant, Bill Blades, CMC, has recognized the value of pre-sabbatical training and recently wrote an article about it. Blades facilitates four- to eight-hour mentoring sessions to help participants uncover areas for development, and outline steps to implement changes, including assigned timeline dates. The innovative training offers a targeted approach for individual improvement.

The second step in Blades' process is for employees to work from home for the next one to four days "to think through the agreed-upon steps and begin acting on them." This reflection helps avoid repeating old patterns by taking the time to build on new insights.

In addition, there is now a new type of coach on the scene. Clive Prout calls himself a "Sabbatical Coach". Through e-mail and telephone coaching, Prout helps his clients to optimize their time off.

As the employment market continues to tighten, we expect more organizations (profit and non-profit) to offer sabbaticals as part of their Employee Value Propositions. Consequently, expect more different types of services to support sabbatical-takers in making the most of their time off.

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