What is more valuable than money? Time. You spend all your time making sure your company is profitable and your future secure, but then one day you find yourself burned out or severely stressed. Oh, and you're also a couple of years older.

Enter the sabbatical, which is meant to give you back your time. If your company doesn't offer a sabbatical program, you should consider doing so.

A sabbatical isn't just a long vacation. Although the time off is meant to help you unwind, you don't want to simply sit on a beach with your spouse or partner or hit the slopes with the kids. That's what vacations are for. Your sabbatical should be about doing things you can't do in a week or two--immerse yourself in learning a new language or culture, get a deep dive into a subject that has held your interest since childhood but which you've neglected, volunteer or pursue a personal project of some kind.

Don't use this time to handle mundane tasks. The idea is to do things you otherwise can't do.

Plan smart. Start early, six to 12 months before you leave, and choose activities that you can accomplish within the time alloted.

Involve your family. Involve your family in the experience and use the time away to strengthen bonds and maybe learn a new skill together. Too often our work life causes us to neglect our family. The sabbatical offers you an opportunity to give back to them while having fun.

Encourage the same. When you return, share your experience with your employees, so they'll want to take a sabbatical, too. This program offers your business many benefits:

  • rewards loyal service and reduces employee turnover (at my firm, employees are eligible for a four-week sabbatical every six years);
  • helps avoid burnout (my employees are cut off from the office during their sabbaticals; we cut off their phone and email access to ensure they return recharged);
  • encourages cross-training (other employees learn how to do the work done by the person who will be absent for a month) employee;
  • supports marketing efforts (our clients tell us they like the fact we treat our employees so well); and
  • helps us recruit great employees (our benefits package helps explain why we have won several "Best Places to Work" awards--key to attracting top talent to serve our clients)

If you don't offer a sabbatical program for your employees, start one now--and be the first to take one.