Paid Sabbaticals – A Retention tool?

The mercurial market conditions and the constant stress to perform often leads to low morale among employees and even without their own realisation their performance graphs move downward. What does the organisation’s resource management doctor (read: HR department) prescribe when such symptoms are diagnosed?

Have you considered this simple but startling calculation on the number of hours spent at our desk? 40 hours a week, for close to 48 weeks in a year. Work might be your passion and emails, reminders, conferences do consume the prime of your life. Admit It!! However, there has always been a time when you stopped gazing at your Blackberry and fantasised of a scuba-diving lesson at Maldives, working with an NGO in a remote village helping or simply go backpacking. Organisations have understood that providing its employees time off while still being paid can be used as an excellent retention tool. “The people of an organisation are one of the most important elements for that organisation to succeed and it is inevitable that they feel motivated to perform at all times. Deadlines, targets lead to constant stress and at such times they need to find confidence not only in themselves but also in their employers as it could even lead to job switching. Thus, to create a resilient workforce that has faith in the organisational values paid sabbatical and other such incentives become imperative,” says Col S.K. Sinha, head – HR, Aamby Valley City.

However, like every revolutionising HR trend which finds its share of criticism, does it seem like the modern-day manager has gone a step ahead in keeping his/her employees motivated? “It’s imperative to connect with the employee needs. Many of these initiatives come from the employees themselves than the HR. They know what drives them and come up with new ideas to keep them engaged to the organization. The manager has become a facilitator and to that effect he is toeing the line,” says Kamal Karanth, managing director, Kelly Services India. According to a recent survey, roughly 18 per cent of large organisations offer its employees paid sabbaticals while few other do provide an option of taking an unpaid sabbatical. This trend does indicate that employers are going all out to keep its workforce motivated.

The times have met with constant dynamism; it is a herculean task to create bedrock of loyal employees. The employees prefer to play maverick when it comes to jobs, to find stability and stagnancy often becomes an ordeal. At such times HR policies are created to help sustain the workforce. Citing an example where its employees have been provided the benefits of a paid sabbatical, Col. Sinha states “Recently, Mr. Narendra Singh who is employed at the 19 Degree North adventure theme park in Aamby Valley City, decided to take up a cycling expedition that starts from Everest to Kanyakumari to spread an eco-friendly message among the masses. We have extended our whole-hearted support to Mr. Singh.”

However, while taking sabbaticals has been an employee’s prerogative, do they help increase productivity? “It has improved key employee retention, employer brand of the organisation which helps in top talent attraction which in turn is linked to increased productivity,” adds Karanth.

Sabbaticals merely can’t be termed as a retention tool. It helps the employee in various ways; in the rigmarole of day to day life often lacklustre creeps in and adversely impacts an individual’s performance. A sabbatical acts as a breath of fresh air that fuels an individual’s mind; employees who return contended from a fulfilling sabbatical are rejuvenated and brimming with renewed enthusiasm.


Source : Ascent / Feb 16, 2012

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