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Why Sabbatical Benefits are Good for Your Employer Brand

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Our Director of Customer Success, Anna Lippe, was our first team member to use our sabbatical benefits. Read more about her experience here

Each year at Stories Inc,. we introduce a new benefit to our team. From a professional development stipend to our four-day work week, we’ve found that rested, appreciated team members are more engaged, stay longer, and deliver higher quality work. 

Our newest benefit: Sabbaticals

In 2023, Stories Inc. launched a new benefit: a sabbatical. After every five years of working at Stories, team members are invited to take a four-week, fully-paid sabbatical. Team members are encouraged to spend their sabbatical time however they’d like, with the goal to come back to Stories refreshed and energized to do great work.

But sabbatical benefits aren’t only good for your team members, they’re also great for your employer brand. 

Sabbatical benefits are a competitive advantage

If your organization offers a sabbatical benefit, you’re an outlier. In a good way.

Recent research from WorldatWork found that only 10% of companies offered a paid sabbatical, while 29% offered an unpaid sabbatical.

This type of benefit is unique and one that is rich with employee stories. Using these sabbatical stories to attract and retain talent is something that not every organization can do, setting your company apart from the rest. 

Sabbaticals prove your commitment to employee recognition

A team member reaching their five year work anniversary (or ten or twenty) is A Big Deal. They’ve given you five years of their career, not to mention building five years of institutional knowledge and industry relationships. This anniversary is your opportunity to show how grateful you are for their hard work and retain them for many years to come. 

And while well-intentioned, rewards like plaques and other symbolic tokens may miss the mark. With a sabbatical, the employee’s impact is celebrated with an equally meaningful reward: the gift of time. A four-week paid sabbatical says “thank you,” and means it.

Anna, right, with her husband Noam, left, enjoying the view from the Peak in Hong Kong.

“It can be easy to see work anniversaries come and go and feel like the years become a blur,” said Stories team member and sabbatical-taker, Anna Lippe. “While I feel recognized on a daily basis, getting the opportunity to take a month-long sabbatical in recognition of my years of service made me feel like my impact was appreciated on a greater scale, too.”

Sabbaticals help employees recharge and improve retention

Time off from work has long been linked to improved employee morale and decreased burnout. But according to a recent study, many U.S. employees struggle to completely disconnect: 55%, of U.S. workers say they don’t fully unplug from their job, and 17% say they stay fully connected away from work. 

Taking an extended leave in the form of a sabbatical forces employees to delegate their essential tasks and truly unplug from work for four weeks. During that time, many find a new perspective on their relationship with work and come back rejuvenated

Anna Batik painting in Bali 

“When you let your mind take a break from your hectic life, pretty amazing things happen,” Anna shares, reflecting on her own month away from work. “2am hikes without worrying about the next day’s alarm; and the bonding that happens in the quiet (and not so quiet, with young children!) moments spent with a friend doing nothing at all.

Anna Lippe, far right, on a 2am hike in Bali during her sabbatical.

Sabbatical benefits create career development opportunities

When a team member embarks on a sabbatical, some work can (and should) be put on pause until they return. But, the essential aspects of their role still need to get done. 

With proper preparation, a sabbatical creates great career development opportunities for others on the team looking for a stretch project or to learn a new skill. This is another source of employee recognition that may open the door to future opportunities for these other team members. . 

Sabbatical benefits are good for employees, business, and your employer brand

Offering a sabbatical benefit for long-tenured employees is a great way to recognize employees, boost employee morale, and create developmental opportunities for your team. They’re great for your people, your business, and attracting and retaining top talent.