BLOG Our Guide to Taking a Sabbatical

Our Guide to Taking a Sabbatical

POSTED BY Annie Gilbert | Feb 14, 2024

Here at Primitive, we celebrate our employees' dedication with intentional time off. We get a lot of questions about the work culture we've created and the ways we care for our team–especially when it comes to sabbaticals. So, we asked Annie, our Chief People Officer, to walk us through this benefit from a leadership perspective. 

Annie's Guide to Taking a Sabbatical 

As the Chief People Officer at Primitive, I've been part of the PrimPack since July 2018. A sabbatical, simply put, is an extended paid break from work. We introduced this as a benefit in 2019, offering a four-week sabbatical to employees who've been with Primitive for five years. This incentive aligns with our core values of wonder and wellness, aiming to reward commitment and provide a return on the investment of time and talent.

Recently, having earned my one-month sabbatical, I've gathered some tips for a successful break.

My Top Takeaways

Preparation is crucial.

When I say this, I don’t just mean preparing in the practical aspects but also in your mindset. Planning for team support and coverage is essential, but asking questions like "What are my goals for my sabbatical?" and "How do I want to spend my time?" adds depth to the experience. Documenting and sharing these goals provides more accountability and increases the chances of a meaningful break.

Take time to reflect. 

Gaining a fresh perspective was unexpectedly rewarding. Stepping away allowed me to realize that my work is what I do, not who I am. This insight helped me return to work with a healthier mindset, separating my role from my identity. It shielded me from the common work-related feelings of overwhelm and frustration.

Is a Sabbatical Really Necessary?

Alright, taking a month off may not be a necessity, but it is an incredible opportunity. I chose to use this time differently, challenging myself to break routine activities like binge-watching TV and spending more time on self-awareness through journaling. Recognizing that everyone's needs are unique, I found that the key is to be intentional in planning to achieve sabbatical goals.

I learned about intentionality, adaptability, and humility during this time. Despite a well-thought-out plan, a sabbatical won't always go as expected. Learning to roll with the punches is a valuable lesson.


Returning with Gratitude

A wise friend advised me to prepare for the return to work. Realistic expectations and applying new habits helped smooth the transition. Giving myself grace, especially in the exhausting first week back in the office, was crucial. The sabbatical transformed me in various ways, from a physical change like cutting my hair, to adopting new habits, such as savoring hot tea and choosing words more thoughtfully.

My team and leadership colleagues provided exceptional support. Their encouragement to disconnect completely was invaluable. Despite the business sacrifice in granting month-long sabbaticals, the positive impact on employee well-being makes it worthwhile. As more and more of our employees qualify for this benefit as they reach five years with the company, I'm grateful for the gift of time and the peace it brought to my life.


Interested in Learning More? 

Check out more from our culture blogs to learn more about creating a better business culture for your employees. Still have questions? Connect with our team to learn more about our services and opportunities! 


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About the writer, Annie Gilbert

Annie Gilbert is the Chief of People at Primitive. With a background in education and counseling, she thrives on caring for people and creating a culture for the team that enables everyone to do what they do best. When she’s not working, she loves hanging out with her husband and three kids, often in a gym watching basketball. She also enjoys reading, traveling and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen.