If you’re one of the many people wanting to negotiate your sabbatical, the great news is you’re not alone. So if you’re thinking of negotiating your career break, it can be done, however, it does require planning and negotiation.
Steps to Negotiating a Proper Career Break
Step One: Planning Your Approach
Unfortunately for most employees, negotiating your career break is going to be something you initiate and follow through, therefore you need to start the planning process very early, however on the plus side, more and more companies offer sabbaticals as they see huge benefits as it helps prevent employee burnout and gives employees a new lease of life. In CNN Money magazine 2012, a quarter of the best companies to work for offered fully paid sabbaticals.
Planning as Early as Possible
When you’re learning how to negotiate your career break, it’s all about pre-planning. What this means is that you want to start off your career break plan on the right foot and show your employer how valuable you are to the company:
- Be a team player at the job, not a loose canon
- Be a very productive employee with a mind to climb the proverbial ladder
- Show interest in the company and in the position; i.e. don’t treat it as a mere job
- Elevate your status in the company by taking the professional approach
Creating the Plan
Negotiating your sabbatical starts early on. Approach it like a business negotiation. Though for the actual pitch that you want to present to your employer, you need to create a thorough plan. This cannot be oversold. You need a solid plan to deliver a winning pitch, or else “no” is all you’re going to hear when you ask for your sabbatical. Know what you want, think about what the company will want and know what you are prepared to compromise on. Also make sure you know the law on career breaks.
Listed below are many various aspects you want to include in the planning process and in the actual pitch when negotiating your career break:
- Find out if your company has a career break or sabbatical policy and read it
- Find out if anyone in the company has already taken a career break and ask how they approached it
- Research various companies–related and otherwise–that offer sabbaticals and examine the benefits of doing so
- Research various aspects of productivity in relation to companies that offer career breaks to their employees
- Determine the obstacles which may impede your chances of negotiating a sabbatical and work to turn the negatives into positives
- Use the information you have learned to create a template for a pitch
- Understand that negotiating a career break must stand out as wholly beneficial for the employer
- List all the positive aspects of this career break and articulate how the company will benefit
- List the positive ways in which you will personally benefit from a career break
- Address issues of what you plan to do on your career break; the idea here being to put the employer’s mind at ease so they know they’re not losing an employee
- Write, in detail, about your actual sabbatical; approach it like an essay in school, telling your employer what you plan to do
- Tie these aspects in and paint the proverbial bigger picture about how everyone comes out the winner
- Do not be afraid to list your specific terms and conditions for a sabbatical
- Include in your pitch a handful of various elements you expect: The time away from work, the amount of pay you’re expecting to receive (if any), the period you want to take the sabbatical, etc
- Work up multiple drafts of this pitch and practice giving it until it flows well
- Take into account, at all times, that this is a negotiation, not a list of demands, so give-and-take is a good thing. What you want as the end result is a comfortable sabbatical package that meets your terms
- Prepare yourself for a “no” and work toward one singular goal: Receiving an emphatic “yes”
- If the answer is no, make sure you know what you’ll do next
- Click here for more negotiation tips
The first step involved in negotiating your career break is definitely lengthy, but the extended planning process pays off during the pitch process. If you’re prepared to offer a winning pitch, there is a much higher likelihood that not only will you get your sabbatical, but that you will get it mostly on your terms.
Here are a few pitch principles to keep in mind during the process:
- Make sure you have a rapport built with your boss/management
- Do not attempt to pitch your proposal mid-project or during a busy period
- Try to avoid pitching during office hours; instead, find the right time and ask if you can speak to your boss after work
- Start out by putting your proverbial cards on the table, telling your boss exactly what this is about
- Go into the benefits the company experiences by having you as an employee
- Speak about career breaks in general and how they have traditionally benefited companies and employees
- Gauge the atmosphere to determine how your pitch is being received at this point; if needed, change your tone or go to another section of your pitch to push the true benefits
- Listen to the boss; don’t simply make demands. Remember, this is a negotiation, so make sure you’re receiving input as well
- Present your exact sabbatical terms and tell your employer exactly what you expect
- Be open to his or her terms as well, bending where necessary to achieve your goal
Once you have properly pitched your career break plan, you need to go over the terms carefully. A “yes” and a handshake is a great sign, but you’re going to need more than that. You want to receive a clearly written and signed contract which puts the terms in stone so that both parties know and can rely on the terms of the sabbatical agreement.
Figuring out how to negotiate your career break is only half the battle here. You still have to implement the proper planning steps and effectively pitch it. If you can do those things, however, you will find that most employers are more than willing to offer a sabbatical package to keep a good employee happy.
Check out Stephenie Overman’s site, who specialises in work place & healthcare issues
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