Are you prepared?
The Tennessean, a Nashville newspaper, recently published an article that identified a Nashville company, Emma, which offers sabbaticals to employees. Sabbaticals are more thought of in an educational or religious setting but this is an interesting concept which might just be the key to standing out in the crowd of employers seeking topnotch talent.
The employees of this firm qualify after they have served the firm for five years. They then are given, if they choose to use it, four weeks away from the company to use as they see fit. That might be to travel, or to explore a passion about which time has not before been available. Maybe there is a hidden chef just waiting to be unleashed by a four week course in cooking. Maybe there is a budding artist that would benefit from an art camp for a month. Maybe the globetrotter in your employee would step to the fore. Maybe a church-connected mission trip would be the thing for another.
So, what if you decided that this was going to be part of the benefit of employment at your company? How would you go about implementing such a policy? Would it be limited to various positions or would it be an across-the-board benefit available to the janitor as well as the C-suite occupants?
What would you do if you had just been handed a four-week sabbatical/vacation with your pay continuing for that period? Would you be able to pull up stakes and go away for a solid month? Would you be able to do so without suffering ‘withdrawal’? If you are the CEO, would you have enough trust in your lieutenants to simply walk out the door, and, like the CEO of Emma, tell your staff that if there was an emergency they should text you, otherwise you didn’t want to hear from them?
This might even be a good exercise if you aren’t really going to think about adding sabbaticals as a benefit of long-term employment.
If you don’t think you could possibly entrust your business to your supporting staff for four weeks, is there something you ought to be doing to change that feeling? Should you be delegating more of the responsibility you hold so that key players get comfortable with the added responsibility? Is there even a staff member whom you can’t see handling more responsibility? Is it time to be thinking about upgrading your staff so that you do feel more comfortable with this concept?
Think about how relieving it would feel to know that you could walk away for four weeks and not have to worry about whether there would be a company to which you could return. That may be a little over-the-edge but…company leaders should take time to reflect on issues just such as this in order to assure that the company continues to grow in capability spread across the shoulders of every key person.
It might not be a sabbatical that takes you out of the seat of power; it might be an unexpected medical condition. While a sabbatical sounds a bit esoteric to many, the idea of a health problem ought to be very real since many of us don’t do ourselves any favors in that regard.
It might just be time for that thought process to begin.