Compared to other types of workplace leave, the sabbatical remains relatively rare: In a 2019 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, just 11% of employers reported having a policy for unpaid sabbaticals, and 5% for paid sabbaticals. But with employee burnout now even more widespread than at the peak of the pandemic in August 2020—some 59% of workers are now at least moderately burned out, according to a recent Aflac survey of 2,000 US employees—extended time away can benefit both employee and employer.

We spoke with The Sabbatical Project founder DJ DiDonna, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and co-author of a recently published paper on the sabbatical experience, about implementing a sabbatical policy that allows your organization to reap the benefits of a replenished workforce. Here are his insights, lightly edited for clarity.


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