Would YOU take a career sabbatical?

Would YOU take a career sabbatical?

With life being crazy-fast-paced in the UK, there have been several times (if I didn’t have 3 small children, obvs) that I’ve thought just how good it would be to take a career sabbatical. There are times in the past where I’ve felt exhausted by working life, no matter how much I’ve enjoyed a job. I think the UK is definitely a place where it’s deemed a good thing to be ‘busy’ all the time in the workplace and work longer hours. Of course, any sane person knows that going hell-for-leather for too long in your career isn’t a good thing for either body or mind, but why are we Brits so worried about taking a breather AKA that often pipe dream that is a career sabbatical? 

A recently commissioned study by Opodo.co.uk found that British workers are reluctant to take such a career break, and therefore risk burn out, but Half of Brits want to take a sabbatical to get away from the stress of working life reveals Opodo.

The study found that:

  • British employees are wary of extended breaks away from work because of long-term impact on their careers despite two-thirds expressing interest in ‘Sabbaticals’.
  • More than half think it would be difficult to return to work post-sabbatical
  • One in five believe it will make them less employable
  • More than a third (38%) said their company offers no flexible working benefits as part of their employment
  • Major factors that influence interest in sabbaticals include workplace stress (50%), improving mental health (43%) followed by improving physical health (32%).

As someone who was a SAHM (Stay at home Mum) for a few years when my older two children were young, I’m under no illusions that it’s definitely a risk taking time out of the workplace in order to be at home with children, or indeed, travel (something I SO wished I did when I was younger).

BUT…I’m pretty sure society as a whole would be happier, and mental health much improved (my own personal opinion) if people felt they could take a break, whether it’s 3 months, 6 months, or a whole year, without it affecting their job position or future career prospects.

Having chatted to a few friends about this, some with kids, some without, but all with jobs that involve a certain amount of stress and responsibility, I asked them what they would do if they were given the chance to have a sabbatical. The responses were mixed- a couple would spend more time with their families or ill relatives, a couple would travel, one friend wanted to write a screenplay (something that she felt far too tired to do come the evening in her day-to-day life). All of them thought they would definitely be re-charged, and ready to come back to their current jobs with much more focus. 

UK employers were rated among the most generous of the nations polled when it comes to leave. However, regarding flexibility for personal reasons, or taking a break, many people have said that they struggle to negotiate time off.

Here are Opodo’s findings regarding workplace flexibilty for UK employees compared to the rest of the world:

Benefit

UK

Worldwide

A generous holiday allowance

25%

22%

Flexibility around working from home i.e. for house maintenance visits

19%

17%

Time off in lieu for days worked over the weekend

16%

16%

Flexibility to leave early to catch a flight/go on holiday

15%

22%

Flexible working hours for parents to juggle childcare

15%

16%

Leave early Friday

14%

19%

An unpaid sabbatical

13%

10%

A paid sabbatical

7%

9%

Summer Hours’ schedule i.e. 8-3pm shift

4%

11%

None of the above

38%

32%

The most common reasons for wanting a sabbatical:

 

Reason

UK

Worldwide

To get away from the stress of working life

50%

49%

To improve my mental health

43%

41%

To improve my physical health

32%

35%

To go travelling with my family (including children)

28%

33%

To go travelling with my partner/spouse

26%

30%

To go on a course / learn a new skill

18%

20%

To go travelling alone

17%

15%

To go travelling with friends

17%

19%

To reassess my career path

14%

16%

To gain experience in a new field of work

13%

15%

To go volunteering

12%

13%

To experience a country I might emigrate to

11%

16%

To set up a new business

10%

12%

To learn a language

8%

15%

To learn a new sport/hobby i.e. diving, surfing

7%

9%

To get over a breakup

6%

6%

With such hectic lives, taking a sabbatical could be exactly what you need to give your life a boost and recharge the old batteries, and find out what makes you tick. 

There is so much to see and do in this world, that I think it’s important to realise that there is more to life than work (however much you love your job!).

So if you’re thinking of taking a break, then be brave and ask- you never know what you might be missing out on otherwise!

 

*In collaboration

2 Comments

  1. November 7, 2017 / 5:19 am

    I took a three month sabbatical to travel in 2002, and it was the best thing I ever did. It ignited my passion for travel, and it was a great way to do so knowing I’d have a job to come back to. I was lucky because the job I’d been hired to do not even a year beforehand was being made redundant and my old company wanted me to work elsewhere, so instead of negotiating a bigger pay rise I negotiated my sabbatical. I’m currently trying to figure out a way that my family of five could travel for a few years… watch this space 😉

  2. Jess Soothill
    November 7, 2017 / 9:02 pm

    When I worked in HR a few people took them and I always admired them, however I always had a mortgage or bills to pay and never could do it myself. Nowadays I am so happy to be doing something that I truly love and wouldn’t want to but I can see the benefits for people who may need to step back. Jess xx

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