Does it pay to take a break?

Most of us would instinctively answer yes to this question without having to think too hard…  Its summer holiday season again and thousands of us are packing our suitcases, leaving our everyday routines and cares behind and heading off to all manner of exciting destinations.

I am now firmly within the gravitational pull of my own annual summer holiday to the south of France.  Excited by the prospect of unfamiliar sights and sounds (well – my French lessons could be going better…!), warm days and nights, hot sunny beaches…etc.  In short, taking a break from everything I normally do, slowing down and trying to reduce my daily levels of technology dependency (although I am realistic about this!).

I am certain the experience will do me good – that I will return to work raring to go again, feeling re-charged and revitalised.

What I am thinking is that if these relatively short holiday periods are good for us, surely it stands to reason that we could all benefit from a slightly longer break every once in a while in the form of a sabbatical?

A number of big name companies already offer sabbaticals. For example, John Lewis Partnership (which has been certified one of Britain’s top employers) offers one of the most generous sabbatical schemes amongst UK employers. Their scheme has been running for more than 30 years, and rewards partners who have more than 25 years’ service the opportunity to take up to 26 weeks’ fully paid leave. While some employers stipulate that a sabbatical should incorporate some form of professional development, at John Lewis employees are able to use this time as they choose.

I have read (and it seems to ring true) that possible benefits of sabbaticals for employees can include:

  •   Replenished energy levels
  •   Opportunities to realise outside-work ambitions, such as charity work / education etc.
  •   Renewed commitment
  •   Self-awareness / new perspectives
  •   Increased confidence
  •   Improved creativity and enhanced performance


Some employers may well find it counter-intuitive to grant extended periods of extended absence to workers – but they too can extract value from the arrangement.  Benefits to a company could include:

  •   Talent retention
  •   Talent recruitment
  •   Revitalized workers
  •   Wisdom retention
  •   Increased productivity, loyalty and commitment
  •   Better reputation and PR opportunities
  •   Bottom line boosting alternative to layoffs


As identified in our recent white paper, ‘A new dawn for workplace strategy?’ there is now increased emphasis amongst the big corporates on employee welfare and well-being. Worker productivity is growing in importance on the corporate agenda and employee welfare is seen as an important aspect of this. As a result, at a time when we are seeing skills shortages in many industries in the UK, we may well see more corporates offering career breaks in a bid to retain, develop and attract new talent (cutting down on heavy costs of replacement recruitment).  It could well be a strategy that pays dividends both for employee and employer and I think we will be hearing of more companies offering this benefit in future.

Meanwhile I continue to day dream about my looming holiday. It amuses me I am having to speed up (to get all my work done) before I get the chance to slow down.  No rest for the wicked as they say… at least for the next three weeks…!