More companies allow for employee sabbaticals

More companies allow for employee sabbaticals

Kenny Oubre spent his January visiting family, renovating his home, and traveling to Thailand. But the Mt. Pleasant resident wasn't on vacation, nor was he between jobs. He was on a paid sabbatical from his company – software company PeopleMatter.

"It was the longest time I had of downtime - time for myself and I was able to really refresh, reenergize and come back with a renewed sense of purpose and direction at the company," Oubre says.

Oubre was offered the 4-week sabbatical after three years of employment with the company.

He is among a growing number of professionals with the opportunity to spend time on sabbatical to travel, volunteer or fulfill a lifelong goal.

Elizabeth Pagano McGuire co-founded Mt. Pleasant company yourSABBATICAL, which partners with businesses to create sabbatical programs.

"If you look at our current reality, we've got longer workdays; There's a real blurred line between personal and professional lives," she says. "Sabbaticals offer an opportunity to refuel and recharge."

PeopleMatter Chief Operating Officer Ken Haigh says employees appreciate the extended time away from their downtown Charleston office.

"You think about sabbatical - it actually comes from the word Sabbath, which means rest, so it's important to be able to do that because we want them to come back with a renewed sense of energy," he says. "They can use that time to learn and develop new skills and also it gives them time to reflect on their current aspirations."

The benefits aren't just limited to the worker. Haigh says managers are able to identify future leaders when an employee's work is delegated.

"You think about the transition plan and make sure you're going to properly hand off items and it's during that process we kind of discover where we might have holes, but when it's executed well there's never a problem," he says.

If your company does not offer sabbaticals, Pagano McGuire suggests you negotiate for one.

"Why would giving you time off benefit your team and your boss? You have to really spell that out," she says. "How is your work going to be done when you're gone? Put that into a proposal."

Oubre says he trusted his co-workers to complete his tasks while he was gone, and returned to work refreshed at the end of his sabbatical.

"Did I have 1,000-plus emails? Yes, but my director at the time told me, 'just take them and delete them all - we took care of everything while you were gone. You just need to start from scratch and get rolling again'," he says.

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