Benefits and Compensation

Sabbaticals – A Solution to Burnout  

In today’s work environment, U.S. employees are experiencing increasing levels of stress and burnout due to longer workweeks, the labor shortage, the return of time-consuming commutes, increased responsibilities post-COVID and other similar issues that can impact mental and physical health. A recent report released by ranked the top 30 “Most Stressful Cities to Work In” and cited several of the above factors as issues that can negatively impact employee well-being.  

To combat stress and burnout, employers should consider unique benefits that prioritize mental health and well-being. One such benefit is implementing a sabbatical program. Compared to standard paid time off, sabbaticals are typically a more structured and intentional period of leave that are focused on personal or professional growth, rather than simply a break from work. According to Harvard Business Review, the number of companies offering sabbaticals has increased dramatically over the past few years, due in part to the profound benefits such programs bring. Allowing and even encouraging employees to take off an extended amount of time can help reduce turnover, increase long-term productivity and lead to a more positive work environment. It is also a valuable recruiting tool, helping to attract top talent and serving as an example of how the company invests in its employees. 

The length of a sabbatical can vary between companies and industries, from two weeks to two months or even longer, but it should be long enough to allow employees to disconnect and recharge. Other factors to consider when creating a sabbatical program include eligibility, paid vs. unpaid, frequency and a coverage plan for when employees are out. There is also the “win-win” factor to consider, meaning employees are required to use this time away to learn new skills or participate in experiences they can then implement in the workplace once they return. 

In addition, make sure to have clear policies in place to effectively manage the process and to set expectations on both sides. Communication is critical to ensure a positive experience and a smooth return to work for all team members. 

Finally, implementing a sabbatical program before stress and burnout levels reach a tipping point is ideal. This will lead to a better chance of employees returning to the workplace feeling refreshed and reengaged, and decrease the chances they leave the company for a new opportunity or stay and “quiet quit.” Some workers may find that taking a short-term career break extends their long-term career commitment. 

Julia Lyons-Ryle is a performance specialist with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions. For more information about Insperity, visit  

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