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Growing Number Of Professionals Are Taking Sabbaticals

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Ever feel like you need an extended break from the daily grind? Time to recharge, see the world, or work on other projects so you can return to your job refreshed?

Well for many, months off is not a pipe dream but an actual option. If a nice long break sounds good to you, here’s how you can make it happen.

Brian David Johnson is a futurist. His job is to help predict what technology will be like a decade from now,but  he recently took a few months off to focus on the here and now.

“When you spend that much time focusing on your mental health, your physical health and intellectual health, you come back as a changed person,” said Johnson.

Johnson is among a growing number of professionals with the opportunity to spend time on sabbatical, taking anywhere from six weeks to a year off to travel, volunteer, or fulfill a life goal.

“If you look at our current reality, we’ve got longer work days, there’s a real blurred line between personal and professional lives. A sabbatical offers an opportunity to refuel and recharge,” said Johnson.

A recent survey found 16-percent of companies now allow unpaid sabbatical leave. Human resource consultant Dan Ryan says sabbaticals are growing in popularity, partly because expectations on the job have intensified.

“The pace of work now, especially after the economic downturn, is very frantic and the sabbatical is a very innovative way for companies to hang on and keep some of the really prized individuals, the ones who really make a difference,” said Ryan.

Workers who take this extended leave typically have to meet certain requirements, like being employed a set number of years or doing something specific, like volunteering.

“Some companies have what I would call very rich plans, where they’ll pay full, full salary and benefits. Other companies will say you can keep your benefits but we’re only going to pay half your salary,” said Ryan. “And there are even circumstances where other people will take a sabbatical that will be unpaid but they will have a job when they actually come back,” Ryan.

What if your company doesn’t offer the option and a person is burned out or just looking for a break? Elizabeth Pagano Mcguire, of YourSabbatical.com, suggested that they negotiate it.

“Why would giving you time off benefit your team and your boss? You have to really spell that out. How is your work going to be done while you’re gone? Put that into a proposal,” said Mcguire.

While the cost of unpaid leave seems unattainable, McGuire said it’s a matter of planning ahead and adjusting expenses.

“You have to plan for it. It generally takes one to three years. You afford it by saving for it. It’s just like any other important life experience. You cut your expenses, you put money away,” said Mcguire.

Johnson, who spent a year planning for his break, used his time away to write books.

“It allowed me to sort of get out of the mindset of corporate America and actually delve into more creative projects,” said Johnson.

Ryan, of the Society for Human Resource Management points out, often the decision to take an extended break isn’t about money, but about time to recharge.

Johnson also added that you can’t add more time to your life but you can add more money.

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