The Employer Engagement Guide: Are Sabbaticals the Answer for Office Fatigue?

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Ryan Kaye

- November 7th, 2022
Employer Hub

Welcome to Part Eight of the Employer Engagement Guide. There’s an increase in the number of employers giving worn-out workers sabbaticals. But is there an easier answer to office fatigue?


A recent report claims that investment banks and tech firms are secretly offering sabbaticals to their staff as a way to prevent workers from burning out following Covid-19. Sabbatical breaks for office fatigue are a great perk. However, there isn’t much evidence to suggest it alleviates burnout.

Today’s sabbatical landscape

sabbatical break

While offering sabbaticals to staff may sound appealing, considering what we understand about office exhaustion indicates that time out isn’t the smartest way to handle it.

Career sabbaticals – in the same way as napping pods and on-site gyms – are, perhaps, a good-hearted perk that covertly highlights just how much your firm expects from employees.

It suggests your employees won’t have the time to have children, sleep, or stay fit. Presenting such bonuses simply offers facilities to help with all of these.

Then, by providing sabbaticals in the workplace, you’re saying, “Oh, and once you’ve caved in from burnout, you can take a sabbatical. No problem.”

That said, if you meticulously create your sabbaticals perk, they may well help retain talent. However, this is very different from managing anxiety. If someone’s been with your firm for roughly seven years, then taking a sabbatical from work may be just what they need to carry on for a further seven.

Many workers perceive a break between changing jobs as the only way to achieve a long-lasting break of over two weeks. So, offering a sabbatical can be useful, as you’re saying to your worker they don’t have to get another job to get this time off.

Time out isn’t always the answer

However, tackling ongoing exhaustion necessitates a more maintainable approach. Like working out and shedding a few pounds, anxiety-reduction entails long-term life changes.

Time out on its own isn’t enough. Even though working too much is one of the primary triggers of fatigue, it’s not the only trigger.

Other causes include:

  • Not receiving enough recognition, connection, and independence.
  • In a job that doesn’t reflect a worker’s ethics.
  • Feeling the company is discriminating.

While time out can help rejuvenate exhausted workers, it can’t always help feelings of helplessness or pessimism.

In light of this, it’s no surprise that even the most expert managers battle to keep their workers happy at the moment. And what could drain an employee’s feelings of independence more than a worldwide pandemic?

In the same way, companies that offer meditation apps may not work. Taking a few minutes out to pause and listen to the ticking of a clock won’t necessarily cure their office fatigue. Equally, giving workers a couple of weeks to recuperate and then plunging them back into an 80-hour working week won’t help.

Employees need compassionate managers

sabbatical from work

Exhausted workers need leaders who are prepared to lessen the burden by roughly 20 per cent and implement boundaries to prevent them from opening emails late at night and over the weekends.

If this doesn’t sound realistic, this suggests you may need to lessen their workload. As a manager, encouraging a work-life balance that promotes manageable hours, captivating projects, and connections with co-workers is paramount.

Introducing flexible working options such as remote working or working from anywhere, is a powerful way to help reduce office burnout. What’s more, working from anywhere (WFA) also helps the planet. If your employees worked from home just 50 per cent of the time, that would result in a considerable decline in greenhouse gas.

Consider introducing regular long weekends

taking a sabbatical

We advise finding a way for your workers to take three-to-four-day weekends regularly. Briefer breaks aren’t as stressful, as they don’t involve any ‘holiday debt’ – your workers don’t have to spend additional hours catching up after they’ve been away or planning to be away.

If you decide to offer sabbaticals in the workplace, advise employees lucky enough to have the option to steer clear of binge-watching Netflix series or even taking up new hobbies like hiking or painting. Instead, tell them to rest.

A lot of productivity embarrassment surrounds taking a sabbatical. Many individuals know they’ve taken time off but have been made to feel guilty about not achieving something noteworthy like writing a novel. Writing a book isn’t resting, is it? It’s one of the most tiring things you could do!

Taking a sabbatical from work should be an opportunity for your employee to disengage from work and think about what matters to them. After this, they may be able to return to your company on a more restorative path rather than feeling a guilty conscience about their sabbatical.