What Is a Sabbatical and Why You Might Need One

Updated on May 4, 2018
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She posts many articles online that are really Bible lessons.

The Word "Sabbatical"

The word "sabbatical" is derived from the word "Sabbath" which means a day of rest. Some people think only those in ministry deserve a sabbatical, but that is far from the truth. Anyone who works all the time is entitled to a sabbatical.

The real definition of sabbatical is an extended period of time away from a person's usual work for the purposes of rest, training, travel, or for other reasons. The break is intended for the person to return to his usual position being renewed physically, mentally and spiritually.

It is not unusual to want to get away from your job to get a fresh start. A vacation won’t help very much because you will need an extended break from your surrounding, including some people.

Different from a Vacation

A sabbatical is different from a vacation even though travel may be involved. Vacations are taken mostly for pleasure. They are much shorter. A sabbatical is an extended period of time that could last from a couple of months to a year or longer.

Sometimes sabbaticals have an estimated end date, but they don't have to be. Often the date is not determined in advance as a vacation is.

Sabbatical
Vacation
Break from job or church
Break from job or church
Extended period of time away from job
Much shorter break from job
2 months to a year
Usually 2 weeks
For research, training, to write a book, to achieve something
For pleasure and fun
Solo effort
Family members and friends are involved
Meant to achieve something
Not meant for any special achievment
Could be paid or unpaid
Jobs usually pay for vacations

Sabbatical Myths

These are some myths associated with sabbaticals.

  • Only people who have worked for a company a long time should be granted a sabbatical.
  • Sabbaticals should be taken only when the reason is directly related to your job.
  • Sabbaticals are always job-related.
  • All sabbaticals are unpaid.

Sabbaticals don't have to involve only job-related activities or research. Sabbaticals can be taken for personal reasons that benefit you personally. Sabbaticals are not limited to education, training, or writing a book. It can be about resetting your life that has nothing to do with your job.

Some people are known to have taken a six-month sailing sabbatical that had nothing to do with their careers; however, it helped put them in the right frame of mind to be more productive when they returned to work.

Most people do not take sabbaticals from their jobs because they don't know they can. Employees should find out if their company offer sabbatical programs.

Employees might think all sabbatical are unpaid. Employees can negotiate paid sabbatical leave from some companies.

Benefits of Sabbaticals

Sabbaticals are not only beneficial personally for an employee, but they are also good for the company. Getting away will help employees who are no longer producing on their job. When employees begin to lack creativity, getting away will help in that area.

A company benefits by allowing an employee to take a sabbatical rather than quitting. If an employee quits, it will cost the company to recruit someone else to hire and train.

Sabbaticals are good for employees and for the company.

The Harvard Business Review recently published an article indicating that organizations benefit when their employees take much-needed sabbaticals. Sabbaticals provide rest for employees to recharge and renew so they can be much better when they return.

Sabbaticals Are On the Rise

Sabbaticals are on the rise in the workplace these days and they are highly recommended. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 17 percent of employers offered paid or unpaid sabbaticals in 2017. They ranged from a few weeks to several months. In fact, some employees went on more than one sabbatical.

The most significant benefit of sabbaticals is to get a renewed perspective. Usually, when an employee returns from a sabbatical, he is a better worker than before, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The study also proved that a decline in stress was noticed after returning from a sabbatical.

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