When I was in my mid 20s, I dreamed of seeing the world beyond my office cubicle--so I made the unorthodox decision to quit my job to travel the globe with two close friends. That trip--and the space it gave me to reflect--changed my life, and was what, in part, inspired me to eventually run my own business.
Back then, I never would have dreamed of asking my boss to hold my job while I went off to explore, but today, the idea isn't nearly as far-fetched. That's because an increasing number of forward-thinking employers have been making extended work breaks, or sabbaticals, a part of their benefits and company policies.
In addition to helping brands attract and retain top talent, encouraging employees to schedule a much-needed break helps workers avoid productivity burnout. By offering sabbaticals to their employees, these nine companies are making it easier to get out of the office and come back refreshed and ready to work.
1. Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
Life is "suite" for employees at Kimpton. The hospitality chain offers a four-week-long sabbatical to employees who have worked at one of their hotels or restaurants seven years. Employees must be director level or above to qualify for this benefit.
Vistaprint, the promotional product company best known for its low-cost business cards, offers a four-week sabbatical for every five years of service to the company to all full-time employees in good standing. Known as the "Vistabreak," this sabbatical can be merged with up to two weeks of vacation time to create a six-week paid leave.
3. The Container Store
As if being a haven for the sorting-obsessed isn't enough to earn The Container Store a permanent place in our hearts, the organization retailer also gives full-time employees who have been with the company ten years two weeks of paid sabbatical. Stick around for 20 years, and that yearly sabbatical increases to three weeks.
As part of Patagonia's emphasis on employee activism, the outdoor attire company offers employees up to two months paid time off to work for an environmental group of their choice. This Environmental Internship Program may not be a traditional sabbatical, but is a great perk for the environmentally conscious employee who wants to make a difference.
More fresh-air enthusiasts are on board with the sabbatical concept. REI offers employees four weeks of continuous time off after 15 years, and another four weeks every five years after that. Take a hike? Don't mind if you do.
6. The Cheesecake Factory
In addition to monthly massage therapy perks(!), The Cheesecake Factory corporate office offers three weeks sabbatical to qualified employees after five years of service. Play your sabbatical right, and you might even be able to find time to finally read the zillion-page Cheesecake Factory menu!
7. Adobe Systems
Adobe Systems knows that employees need a break after staring at a computer for too long. The software giant offers a four-week sabbatical to employees who have been with the company five years, a five-week sabbatical to employees who have been with the company for ten years, and a six-week sabbatical every five years to employees who have been with the company for 15 years.
Intel rewards patience in their sabbatical program. Employees can choose whether to take a four-week paid leave every four years, or an eight-week paid leave every seven years. Better yet, employees have up to three years after their eligibility date to take the sabbatical, leaving plenty of time for planning that perfect long getaway.
This online real estate company wants to reward long-term loyalty with a nice, healthy getaway. Workers who have been with Zillow for six years can take up to six weeks off (three of which are paid). It's a benefit that's available as a perk every six years, and the company encourages everyone--at every level--to take advantage.