Sabbatical is Not a Dirty Word

Sabbatical is Not a Dirty Word

by Amala Pillai
There is a way to hit the ‘refresh’ button on your career and have the time of your life. Here is why you should consider time off work

According to the 2015 Michael Page India Employee Intentions report, a shocking 82 percent of Indians intend to switch jobs within 12 months.

But before you jump on that bandwagon, we have a suggestion: don’t quit your job, just hit the pause button. Take a constructive break from work that allows you to further your career and return fresher than ever. Take a sabbatical. A sabbatical is a formal period of temporary leave from your current job. While sabbaticals are typically unpaid, it is understood that you will be returning to your job after a few months or a year. A sabbatical should not be confused with a career break, which follows after quitting your job — without the safety net of guaranteed employment afterwards.

Is taking a sabbatical right for you? Here’s a checklist:

  • You are a high performing individual who has been with the company for several years (otherwise, you run the risk of being viewed as unprofessional).
  • You have a clear idea of how your time off will aid you in a professional capacity. It could be that you want to continue your education or even volunteer, but you need to justify how it will benefit your position. This also means you have a concrete plan of what you will be doing during your time away from the desk.
  • You have a detailed idea of how to hand over your responsibilities, which not only includes a specific start and end date, but also who will take over your tasks.

Need ideas for how to convince your company of the advantages of a sabbatical? We have you covered.

play video play video


Whether you use your time away to trek the Himalayas or enrol in a university program, one thing you will get for sure is a new lens on life. When entrepreneur August Turak decided to enrol in Saint John’s University as a novice graduate student in Theology, little did he expect it to change him forever.

Turak said the experience got him looking at his business challenges in new ways. New experiences or even a change in scenery can change the way you look at problems and therefore provide new and innovative solutions.


If you are backpacking around Europe, you will deal with meeting new people, problem-solving, overcoming language barriers and managing a tight budget.


Many people find they appreciate their day job even more after a stepping out of their day-to-day job for an extended period. But it works both ways; your company may realise how valuable you are to them, too. That’s what happened to management consultant Rakchit Singh.

As he told the Indian Express, after a six-month break his employers begged him to return to the job. “I am grateful for that break as it taught me to value myself and it rekindled my passion for my old job. I returned to work by choice and today I am much happier.”  Play your cards right, and you could return to a job that welcomes you with open arms (and improved benefits).


Essentially, this structured time off is a chance to accumulate life experience. It’s hard to quantify and sum up these two words on a CV, but perhaps that’s the point.

Often, that life experience comes at the cost of failure: the book you were going to write bombed, that app you wanted to develop never got off the ground. But the chance to fail and learn on your own (and not at your company’s risk), allows you to return wiser and more fearless than ever.

Still worried about the benefits of taking a break? There is a reason this life choice is becoming so popular, and the numbers don’t lie: out of the 500 professionals interviewed in Reboot Your Life, a handbook offering advice on career breaks and sabbaticals, every single one reported that their careers were enhanced in some way.