Should companies offer sabbaticals?

January 3, 2011: 1:31 PM ET

Academic sabbaticals have been shown to improve well-being and reduce stress among faculty members. Do these benefits also apply to the corporate world?

By Alexandra Levit, contributor

Sabbaticals, or paid leaves for personal and professional development, have long been a staple of the academic life. They usually comprise of several months off campus and provide a break from teaching and administrative tasks. But while it's reasonable to assume that employees may benefit from sabbaticals, do companies and institutions benefit as well?

A research team from Israel, New Zealand, and the United States recently published a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology that found that people who take sabbaticals not only experience a decline in stress during their sabbatical, but experience an overall stress decline after returning to work as well (compared to their stress levels before they went on leave).

James Campbell Quick, one of the authors of the study and an organizational psychologist at the University of Texas at Arlington, grew interested in sabbaticals after spending nine months at the university and three months serving in the U.S. Air Force.

"I found that my time in the Air Force provided much-needed rejuvenation as well as complimentary real-world experience to bring back to the classroom," he says.

After returning from his own sabbatical, Quick decided to investigate the effect of sabbaticals on well-being and development. More

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