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Less is More: The Rise of Workplace Sabbaticals

Less is More: The Rise of Workplace Sabbaticals

Renae Hurlbutt | DivineCaroline

July 13, 2011

El Bulli
Spain’s El Bulli is widely regarded as the world leader in avant-garde cuisine. The upscale eatery has placed first in Restaurant magazine’s ranking of the world’s best restaurants five times and won a rare three stars from the prestigious Michelin Guide.

For Chef Ferran Adrià, the restaurant’s success is entirely dependent on creativity and innovation, which is why he shuts down the restaurant for six months out of the year; he uses that time to keep cultivating his passion for cooking and food and to experiment with the menu in his workshop, El Taller, in Barcelona.

This year, Adrià announced that he will take a two-year sabbatical from El Bulli and reopen it in 2014 as a creativity center.

Contrary to what you might think, inventing semiconductor chips ain’t easy. Which is why Santa Clara‑based Intel Corporation, the company that keeps your personal computer whirring, gives their employees an eight-week sabbatical with full salary and benefits after each seven years of full-time work.

Container Store
Sabbaticals aren’t just for the high-end design firms and tech companies, retailers can do it, too. For the past twelve years, the Container Store has scored top spots on Fortune 500’s best companies to work for. It offers paid sabbaticals to employees after ten years of service, and after twenty years, the retailer rewards its employees with two roundtrip airline tickets to any location in the United States plus gives them $1000 in spending money and an extra week off for their travels.

Of course, we can’t all work at El Bulli or Sagmeister, Inc., or even the Container Store (imagine all the free pencil holders!). But if you’ve logged a few years at a company and you’re devoted to growing there but feeling a little stuck, it might be worth asking your employer if they’d be open to giving you some time off for personal or professional development.

Consider what you’d like to get out of the sabbatical before you approach your boss and present the idea in a way that benefits your workplace. If your manager is smart, and if you’re truly presenting a win-win proposition, you might be pleasantly surprised with the answer.

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