You Deserve an HR Sabbatical

Laurie Ruettimann Change, Driving Productivity, Good HR, HR, HR (& Life!) Advice, Laurie Ruettimann, The HR Profession

There is an alternate universe where human resources professionals are revered as workforce leaders. They are offered paid leave every seven years to learn more about their industry. They take time off to read, and they travel to random places like India or Cuba and learn about emerging issues in complex labor markets.

That universe doesn’t exist for most talent acquisition and HR professionals; however, just because somebody isn’t paying you doesn’t mean you can’t take a sabbatical.

Here’s how to take the HR sabbatical you deserve.

On the seventh day, rest.

Sabbatical is an old word, and it comes from the word Sabbath. In Latin, it’s sabbaticus. In Greek, it’s sabbatikos (σαββατικός). And from Hebrew, you have the word shabbat (שבת).

(Thank you Wikipedia.)

When old-timey people honored the Sabbath, they stopped working and paid homage to the abundance of life, family, and G-d. You don’t have to stop using technology, but it’s not a bad idea for you to pick one day out of your week and stop thinking about talent management or HR analytics.

It’s amazing how creative you’ll feel about work if you spend one day each week thinking about life.

Start a sabbatical fund.

NPR is constantly begging you for money to sustain and grow a vital and independent broadcasting channel here in America. I would encourage you to donate to your local NPR station, but go ahead and give to your savings account first. For every five dollars you donate to your savings account, you grow ever-closer towards telling your boss to take this job and shove it. You can save for a rainy day if a sabbatical is ever “put upon” you. And you can operate from a position of financial independence, instead of fear, when you advocate for new ideas at your company.

Stop giving 110%.

The best way to go on sabbatical is to stop giving 110% at work, give 82%, and use the rest of that time to do something more productive with your day.

You might say, “I have a work ethic, Laurie. I am a doer.”

You are delusional. Nobody works 110% except migrant workers and victims of human trafficking who are forced to work that hard. The rest of us think we work hard, and then we complain about it.

In the gap between 82% and 110%, you don’t have to be a jerk at work. Take that time and energy and read a book. Attend a lecture. Coordinate a networking event within your company. Be creative and bold, and I promise you that those efforts will pay dividends in your personal life and career.

One more thing.

Spending too much time obsessed with one thing will make you strange, which is why you deserve an HR Sabbatical. It’s good to be an expert, but it’s more fun to be a student.

If you can’t take a formal sabbatical, take one in your mind.

Laurie Ruettimann

Laurie Ruettimann is a former HR leader and an influential speaker, writer and marketing advisor. Her work has appeared in many mainstream print publications and major news media outlets. You can find her on twitter at @Lruettimann.