Sabbatical – How do I convince my boss?

You want to live life to the fullest, even though you have a great full-time job that you don´t want to lose? You have always dreamt about travelling the world – save whale sharks in the Maldives, get to know the unique landscape of Patagonia on horseback or explore the stunning mountain panorama of the Himalayan region? You want to build a house or spend more quality time with your loved ones? Well prepared and well presented, a sabbatical can be the ideal solution to your desires. Most important for the realization of your time out is of course an early planning process but also the conversation with your employer!

But how can you convince your boss of your plan?

What is your motivation, what are your goals?

Most importantly: Be aware of what you want and what your goals are. For once this detailed planning will help you to design your unique sabbatical in the best way and to fill it with something that you always wanted to do. Besides that, it also helps you with the conversation with your boss, as it makes your proposal authentic and it will be quite obvious that this is very important to you. This will raise your chances to be taken seriously and to be granted such a time out that you have no legal entitlement to in Germany.

In advance you should do research about whether your company might even offer sabbaticals as part of their voluntary social benefits. If there are no such arrangements, you should prepare your arguments even more before the appointment with your employer to be as convincing as possible. Moreover you should also make up your mind if you would be willing to adjust your plans according to the company's needs, if you would also take into consideration working in a different position after your return or if you would even be willing to quit if there would absolutely be no chance to be granted a sabbatical.

Think about the compatibility with your job, financial aspects and insurance issues

First of all, you should think about possibilities to finance your absence from work if you want to stay with the company. You should also keep in mind that there are insurances that may need to be covered in case you quit. For tips and ideas regarding possible models, you can also read our section about planning your sabbatical in Germany. In this phase you don't need to have worked out each little detail like whether or not you want to sell your car, what is going to happen to your flat etc. Nevertheless, you should make a plan on how your workload could be divided, who might be willing to take over your responsibilities temporarily and which projects definitely need to be done before you leave Moreover, you can ask friends and acquaintances who have done a sabbatical about their experiences, especially during the planning phase.

How does my company benefit?

Besides these organizational aspects, it is very important to work out the benefits that your time out carries for your employer and maybe for the entire company. If you, for example, think that you are way more decisive in general, but right now you are just too stressed out to think clearly, this might be a convincing argument for your sabbatical. You can use your time out to refresh in order to come back relaxed and ready to deal with problems and spontaneous changes in a more creative way. In this context a sabbatical can also be seen as a preventive measure against physical and psychological stress related diseases. Instead of feeling miserable due to all the stress you are in, you will return fresh and highly motivated with new ideas and new esprit. Moreover, you will increase your crisis handling skills, as you will be confronted with sudden complications on your trip, like losing your luggage or having to cope with a chaotic local transportation system. Or maybe you want to engage in a project that you will benefit from afterwards. For example, your Spanish skills will be much better after your South America trip which will enable you to communicate with your Spanish clients even better. Or how about establishing a new ice hockey youth team that will for once increase your organizational skills but also your leadership abilities?

Another good argument can be the promotion of young staff members that are willing to temporarily take over some of your responsibilities and tasks. Due to the time limitation they can gather experience and demonstrate their abilities. Furthermore, your employer can benefit from your sabbatical directly as his or her effort for employees will contribute to a positive reputation and will also increase their loyalty.

This is of course an argument that you don't need to mention directly but nevertheless it can be said that an improved working atmosphere is a beneficial side-effect of an employer committing to his or her employees. Moreover, this might even give young and talented specialists incentive to work for this company. In the relevant sector your time out can also be a relief if the number of contracts is low and you can reduce overtime. By planning your sabbatical for such a time of the year you may even contribute to the prevention of layoffs.

Keep in mind your value for the company

Before talking to your employer you should also prepare yourself by recalling your successes in the company. Of course you should not be too blunt about it and directly start your argument with it, nevertheless, it is important for you to know your own value to be prepared for critical questions and discussion. Moreover, it is advisable to make a good impression beforehand, e.g. by showing up well-groomed, being punctual as well as hard-working and by taking over certain tasks voluntarily. To prepare further, you can also think about possible arguments your employer might have against your proposal and how to refute them best.

Everything planned and ready to talk to your boss

Once everything is planned and reviewed you shouldn't hesitate to talk to your boss. There is no reason to be nervous as you are very well prepared. The earlier you talk to him/herr, the more time both of you will have for the realization of your sabbatical. Keep in mind: In the worst case your proposal will be denied. If you are still nervous, you can try to practice the conversation with family and friends to gain more self-conscience.

You should wait for a quiet and moment to talk to your boss in private and it can of course be helpful if he or she is in a good mood. If you want your boss to be unbiased about your proposal, you can also make a personal appointment without directly naming the topic. During your conversation you should keep in mind to present your proposal clearly and in a direct manner. Of course it is important that your employer notices your passion about your plans, nevertheless you should try to stay objective and avoid arguments that are too emotional. Even if your conversation was better than expected and you are very optimistic, you should keep in mind that your superior might not be able and/or willing to give you an answer right away. Stay positive and give him/her enough time to think through your proposal, get information about the regulatory framework and about ways to make your time out possible. Ask how the further proceeding is handled and how much time it will take roughly, maybe even set a new appointment for another conversation. If your proposal was successful, you should agree on the terms and conditions in a written form.

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