Sabbatical Vs India : Why fear going on Sabbatical?

SAbbatical Vs India: Dr. Manan Chaturvedi

Have your reached that level of your career where you are tired of working same work day in and day out, week after week, month on month, and you want to take a break from this monotonous life? That’s quite possible, after all we are all human beings and we need to refresh our minds, and that’s really important to take a break or go on sabbatical, as it unwinds and refreshes your mind and energy. Generally it is observed that professionals joining back from their sabbaticals comes back with a great energy and fresh ideas, after al they have spent some quality time with themselves.

But wait a minute! are you working in India? oh! I can totally understand your fear why you don’t even have started thinking of going on sabbaticals and are happy with those 2 days weekend getaways. You would be surprised to know that many of my friends have not even heard of this term in their entire span of corporate careers. Although I am glad to know that the corporate culture is slowly and gradually evolving in this matter, however still a long way to go. Going on sabbatical is a huge deal and a big decision that one can take while working in India, and there are multiple reasons that I have observed over the time.

What would I do?

People often wonder what would they do during sabbaticals? it’s because the general idea of being on sabbatical in India is a long, very long leave, which is purely a myth. Of course sabbatical is your personal time out for yourself, and you can choose to utilise it the way you want. Many, in-fact use this time to travel abroad with family or even alone, whereas some do utilise this time for their personal growth and invest this time in their development, or even being at home taking care of the family is also very important role that you can play during this break from the corporate world. Some even use this precious time in returning back to the society by volunteering and participating in CSR activities.

So, don’t think what would you do during our sabbaticals, there are ’n’ number of roles waiting outside your office for you to play in the real world.

The project will suffer a great loss

Now say you have made up your mind and have done all the calculations for the time that you are going to spend on sabbaticals. It’s time to encounter the devils advocate that stands in the way of you and your sabbaticals is your approving manager. The general term that comes from the managers is, “The project/delivery will be highly impacted in the absence”.

That’s a pure myth and should be done away as soon as possible from any work culture. Because this kind of work culture don’t even hamper the work-life balance of the employee, but also increases the chances of loosing a valuable resource. Rather sabbatical could be a very innovative way of succession planning. Those who are not on sabbaticals and are covering for the individual’s work, enjoy proving grounds and opportunities they might not otherwise have.

Even the clients with whom you work gain the faith in the organisation as they build the trust that they belong to the company and not an individual working in the company. But alas this culture is yet to come to India where managers take sabbaticals as an opportunity to develop others who are left. Instead it is often observes that employees seeking sabbatical end up leaving the organisations for good and take a career break instead, as they were not granted their sabbaticals

Must have been fired!

Many who decides to finally move on with their sabbaticals by the hard decisions of leaving the organisation, face the real monster when they want to re-enter his corporate career. It’s often faced by those who were on sabbaticals, that when they hit back to the market looking for the opportunities, they are not easy welcomed back. Many of my knowns who head the HR departments with some great organisations, when asked why they would not lie to hire somebody who is break or on sabbaticals? the general response I get “He must have been fired from his last job, and now not getting any job. That’s why sitting at home from past ‘x’ number of months”

And I don’t blame them for their perceptions, because that’s what they have learnt and grown with over the years of experience in their career. They all know the meaning of the term sabbatical, but have not witnessed it as a cultural practice in their organisations, and hence it becomes hard to believe for them that someone could actually be on sabbaticals and not fired from his last job.


Time when you return back from a sabbatical could actually be really intense, as you might have lost touch with the flow. However the same can easily be taken care with a proper induction in the system and proper delegation of the work, as you would anyways do with any new employee. However, in the quest of looking for a plug and play resource, who could start delivering from day one, companies do tend to hire a high cost and probably comparatively less productive resources over appropriate cost and comparatively high productive resource coming back from sabbaticals.

Rather the organisations should give preference to experienced professionals returning from sabbaticals, as they come with their experiences and a fresh mind and approach post sabbaticals.

Don’t let the uncertainty kill the opportunities that might fall your way on sabbatical. For employers, I would suggest it’s time to evolve and see the possible opportunities of finding next leader in your organisation, building a one organisation brand and gain the trust of your clients that they are associated with an organisation and not an individual.

And sabbaticals aspirers, start saving money as soon as possible, money is the first big hurdle for most people on Sabbaticals, and just go for it. As said by Clements “The best sabbaticals are taken with a dose of faith”

“The best sabbaticals are taken with a dose of faith”

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