Top Workplaces Serve Suds But Not Sabbaticals

Posted on: Monday, June 27th, 2016
Posted in: HR FYI | Leave a comment


Yesterday’s Star Tribune included a hefty supplement about Minnesota’s best employers, as determined by the Strib and Pennsylvania’s Workplace Dynamics. The Twin Cities remain a top metro to work and live in according to umpteen surveys. And there’s plenty to love about how employers are creating innovative perks for employees—everything from Flannel Fridays to free beer.

Sadly missing, however, are sabbaticals. After perusing all 40 pages (including dozens of self-congrats ads from companies), I honestly don’t think the word or any like it appeared. Oh sure, some are upgrading their PTO and flex-work policies. But earning, say, a three-month BreakAway for seven years of service? Nary a mention, hint, or clue.

  • Whatever the numbers, they’re low

It’s possible we don’t really know how many companies offer—and deliver—paid extended breaks. But we do know this much: Few do. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, about 5% offer paid sabbaticals and about 18% offer unpaid. According to Fortune, meanwhile, 25% of the 100 Best Companies to Work for have a program.

But as noted here in MYBA all too often, many companies—even well-intentioned ones—say they provide the perk. But few staffers dare to take their time. It reminds me of the clever neon hanging in a favorite bar: “Free drinks tomorrow.”

Here’s the thing: The USA now boasts an unemployment rate below 5%; it’s below 4% in Minnesota—and iterations of “Help Wanted” signs are omnipresent and getting detailed and creative. Many of these jobs are low-paying positions that may never be sabbatical material. But what about those who have worked their way up the ladder for years into management or dedicated careers?

They will probably burn out, grow resentful, and depend on a work ethic that is based more on short-term fear than on long-term, inspirational incentives.

Let’s hope for change; goodness knows employers must fight to attract and retain great talent. And most are certainly not doing it with pay; according to one article in the report, employee compensation peaked in 1970 and is nearing 60-year lows. Meantime, corporate profits are approaching 60-year highs. Executive pay is doing pretty okay, too.

For the rest of us—the salaried millions and minions—here are some perks that better employers have brewed up that seem to be creating a buzz for now. Decide for yourself whether you’d rather have Flannel Fridays or three months off.

  • Free beer
  • Intrapreneurial programs
  • A prom
  • “Thought leadership” blog posts for all
  • Telecommuting options
  • Student loan repayment assistance
  • Emergency loans
  • “Employee empowerment”
  • Flex time
  • 15-minute massages every other week
  • Fitness centers
  • Recreation areas
  • Kitchens
  • Community gardens
  • Pizza parties
  • Flannel Fridays
  • Casual Fridays
  • Food truck Fridays
  • Dogs allowed (no mention of cats)
  • Wellness classes
  • Bowling teams
  • Sharing financials
  • ESOPs
  • Boat rides
  • Golf outings
  • Yoga
  • Happiness
  • Donuts


P.S. No mention of vacations or family/parent/health leaves either…

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