Sabbatical for executives

Especially executives are often highly burdened with responsibilities for projects and employees, time pressure and a constantly needed availability leading to a high amount of stress. It is not uncommon that staff in leading positions suffer of personal crises and stress related illnesses even though they have reached their professional goals according to plan.

Particularly for top managers a sabbatical has not been a realistic option for a long time, as a time out was, and still is in many cases, commonly understood as weakness. Meanwhile a sabbatical is not so much seen as a disadvantage for the career anymore but rather as a personal development and enrichment that will also bring professional benefits. Employees decide to do a sabbatical and return to their daily routine more relaxed, satisfied and amongst all - way more productive. In the end especially the employer profits from recovered staff. With new motivation, new insight and a more creative handling of demanding tasks, recovered executives enrich the company and contribute to a high quality of work as well as a better working atmosphere.

What should executives with the desire for a sabbatical keep in mind?

Despite all the prejudices and obstacles that come with a sabbatical in leading positions, also for executives in large companies it is possible to take a break. Nevertheless you need to prepare very thoroughly.

Develop a concept

For executives as well as for employees with less responsibilities, it is very important to start planning your time out early enough. Once you have decided that you want or maybe even need to take a sabbatical, you should think about what exactly you want to do in your time out. Where do you want to go, what kind of program would be interesting for you, do you want to return to your company afterwards? If you need to convince a superior (if you have one), you should especially focus on the last part and think about how you could make your absence from work possible and what kind of working time model would suit your needs and plans best. Moreover you should think of a concept of how to divide your tasks and responsibilities during your sabbatical to offer your superior concrete ideas and suggestions about how your time out could be organized.

Your next step should be to make an appointment with your superior, to talk about your plans and intentions, to develop a solution together and prepare further planning and a possible application for your sabbatical. If your time out is granted and you will be supported by your superior, it is very important to think about ways to divide your tasks and responsibilities, as well as to plan the financing of your time of absence as well as the handling of your insurances. In our blog and on our pages about the planning of a sabbatical you can read more about different models and possibilities.

Restructure your everyday work

Concerning the redistribution of your tasks, you need to think about who would be able and willing to cover your work and function as a representative for employees as well as customers. You should organize your tasks according to their priority before distributing them to employees and maybe also to your employer. To have enough time to familiarize your direct representative and give him or her the opportunity to learn and ask questions, you should plan the whole undertaking early enough! It also makes sense to list all your regular tasks and responsibilities to keep in mind what still needs to be organized and to make it easier for your representative. Moreover, you should let colleagues, employees and customers know, who will be your representative during your time of absence. If your work is bound to projects, it can be recommended to plan your sabbatical for the time after the completion of your major projects. This spares your representatives from the additional expenditure of getting to know a possibly very complex project well enough to make responsible decisions.

As an executive it is very important for you to start your preparation as early as possible and to include a sufficient buffer in case something is not working according to plan. Moreover, you will have to distribute a lot of responsibilities and tasks and therefore many people are involved that need to be trained and familiarized. Nevertheless you should not be frightened off by the additional expenditure, as a sabbatical is a great opportunity to get out of a stressful everyday working routine. With this “once in a lifetime experience” you can focus on your needs and fulfil long wished for dreams that you will think of for a long time.

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