Sabbaticals: 5 Major Points to Discuss!
Have you encountered the term sabbaticals in the context of research and academia? Do you ever come across any kind of special leaves that are granted to your professors or other teaching staff with a paid perk? Do you ever wonder what is the essential purpose of sabbaticals and how do they prove meaningful for one’s career? Are you curious about the specific duration and eligibility of taking up sabbaticals in your research or academic career?
Let us explore the specifics of sabbaticals and attempt to understand its various aspects such as duration, benefits, importance, relevance and eligibility. It is important to know the various topics that surround sabbaticals in order to understand its specific significance as an employee/researcher in a given organization and utilize them in a meaningful manner.
What are Sabbaticals and How are they Important?
In order to understand the importance associated with sabbaticals, let us first understand the essential meaning associated with the term ‘sabbatical’. Sabbaticals in the most simplest terms often refer to break periods or paid leaves granted to employees/researches and even postdoctoral students of an organization for a stipulated period of time. These sabbaticals are voluntarily initiated by the employees themselves as a matter of taking some time off from their work in order to pursue something different such as a research project, a small vacation, travelling abroad or even medical reasons such as opting for specialized treatment for a specific condition or simply giving oneself a necessary break from the overworked routines and busy schedules resulting in burnout. Sabbaticals are often granted to employees who have contributed significantly towards the success of the organization and are at a senior level of working position. Generally, freshers and junior employees who have not proved themselves at work and are inexperienced might not get easy approvals for sabbaticals.
It is important to understand the specific necessity of sabbaticals in the work culture. Being an employee/researcher at an organization, one is bound with many responsibilities and commitments at their workplace and they might not be able to pursue other important projects of their interest in say research or they might not be able to spend quality time with their family members or even go for travelling and engage in recreational activities of their interest. Therefore, it is necessary to realize the importance of sabbaticals and apply for them at your workplace, if you perceive that your work is making you pay a huge price in your personal as well as professional life! One can consider various points around the sabbatical and assess its relevance, necessity, duration and importance in relation to their existing working condition at the organization and if they feel that taking the sabbatical is important, then they can take it up by drafting a well written application to your manager or senior. Sabbaticals are granted for a minimum duration of 6-8 weeks by organizations. Once can even apply for longer sabbaticals lasting for 1-2 years if they perceive that their work might last longer than a few months!
Relevance of Sabbaticals
Sabbaticals are considered relevant especially in today’s times, considering the increasing amount of workload, professional commitments, hours of working, stressful routines, short deadlines as well as intense work schedules. Most employees after having established themselves at the organization and pursuing a lot of work there, plan on taking sabbaticals that might last for a year or more depending on the nature of the work that they wish to pursue away from the workplace. Some employees also take sabbaticals as a matter of buying time to apply in other organizations that might provide them with better perks, packages and flexible working hours for the sake of easing their burdens. Some employees also take sabbaticals to pursue their dreams such as writing a book/research paper, pursuing postdoctoral studies at an institute, travelling abroad or even for medical reasons such as taking care of family members in critical conditions or even their own diagnosed illnesses that might require harsh treatments lasting for than a few months.
Sabbaticals help individuals take a break from the mundane and overworked routines, they provide them with a time to unwind, relax and pursue projects they might not be able to pursue while working at a given organization. Since most sabbaticals are paid and involve good remunerations for trusted employees, one should not be concerned about financial aspects while pursuing other work during the sabbatical. One also has the option of extending the sabbatical, by clearly stating the reasons associated with doing so and one can also provide the relevant evidences such as project performance reports, medical reports or nature of work being pursued to provide the guarantee to the organization that they are not necessarily funding your sabbatical needlessly for a prolonged period of time. One must also understand that different organizations have different policies for sabbaticals such as providing a notice before applying for a sabbatical, defining the purpose and nature of your sabbatical, staying in touch during and before your sabbatical, and so on. Most private organizations do not have flexibility of sabbaticals as do governmental organizations, due to limited funds, multiple employees and higher responsibilities, but one can always apply for sabbaticals if they feel they could help one resume their work at the organization with a fresher and meaningful approach. Some organizations also provide unpaid sabbaticals, and under such circumstances, one must attempt to have financial support or backups in mind in order to thrive without struggling during the sabbatical.
Duration of Sabbaticals
Sabbaticals are normally assigned for a duration of 6-8 weeks that easily translates to 42 to 60 days on an average. Depending on the nature of the work, one can apply for sabbaticals that last for 6 months to 1 year. If the organization finds potential in the nature of the work that you might pursue during the sabbatical as well as agrees on to the purpose of the sabbatical, one might ask for extensions based on their progress during the sabbatical. One needs to maintain good communication with their organization and senior colleagues during the sabbatical, if asked about its progress and how it shall unfold after its end. If one is planning to quit or resign their existing positions at their organization after the sabbatical considering its good potential, meaningful progress and outcomes, one should make such a decision after carefully considering various factors such as prospects after sabbatical, financial prowess, professional endeavors and existing experiences. If one perceives that the organization shows continued interest in funding their sabbatical and permitting its extension, one might also consider resuming their job after successfully completing their sabbatical.
Under circumstances, where the organization is actively looking for a replacement after your application for resignation during or after the sabbatical, one can do the needful of continuing their work as an employee till the organization asks them to do so as a matter of justifying the notice period.
One must not lose hope, if the sabbatical period does not yield any profitable or meaningful outcomes as anticipated during its initiation. There is always an option of quitting or eliminating the sabbatical if it proves to be hindering your professional endeavors and chances of getting a good recognition in the industry.
Eligibility of Sabbaticals
Sabbaticals are considered to be open for those individuals who have had a professional working experience of a minimum of 5-6 years at an organization, possessing the necessary experience in various organizational and technical aspects, are meaningful assets to the organizations and are capable of proving themselves in the skills required as an employee. Most organizations do not easily permit freshers and junior employees having minimal experiences of 1-2 years at the organization as eligible for sabbaticals. Sabbaticals are easily approved if one has had to deal with maximum workload, stressful routines, has had not had any significant leaves or day-offs during their working tenure at the organization and has proven as a profitable asset of the organization.
One can apply for leaves or simply resign in case they do not qualify for sabbaticals at their organization and wish to pursue alternative projects/careers for a short period of time.
Benefits of Sabbaticals
There are several benefits associated with taking sabbaticals during work at a given organization.
Let us look at a few benefits associated with sabbaticals:
- Help in pursuing alternative projects/careers during a stipulated time period such as writing a book/working on a research paper, taking up a job for a short time in another location, etc.
- Help one relax and unwind from mundane and heavy working routines, stress and anxiety by giving time to rest and stay peaceful.
- Help one spend quality time with family members, friends and other individuals due to less work and no accountability for some time.
- Help shape careers meaningfully by exploring different professional paths, experiences and projects.
- Help expand professional network as a matter of meeting new professionals and experts during the sabbatical period.
- Help in pursuing existing jobs with a fresher perspective and new and innovative ideas.
- Help in creating a much needed work-life balance and increasing motivational levels at work.
Sabbaticals are highly meaningful and beneficial for an individual’s well-being, career as well as overall working efficiency. One can consider various aspects such as duration, relevance, importance and necessity, potential and outcomes of their sabbatical and apply accordingly at their organization. Sabbaticals help one realize their larger goals in life and also create an alternative career path for them as a matter of pursuing different co-curricular and academic activities during the sabbatical period.