Are you feeling burned out? Do you long for a round-the-world barefoot cruise sans phone, fax or modem?
If you work at Frank Russell Co., Tacoma, Wash., your wish could become reality. Long an idea of Chairman George Russell's, the consulting giant is offering employees a sabbatical every 10 years.
Starting next January, 267 people from the company's 1,055 associates will be eligible for an eight-week paid leave that does not require involvement with educational or professional development. The program will be phased in over four years to accommodate all of those eligible without disrupting the firm's work flow. Every employee, regardless of position, is eligible for the leave.
"The whole idea of intellectual renewal for a company whose sole product is ideas is very refreshing," said Barry Thomas, Russell's director of human resources. "People are already comparing the amount of time they have until they can take the sabbatical and getting really excited about it."
One employee, Don Ezra, director of consulting services, plans to spend his time in Paris, learning French. Another employee devised an intricate flow chart, scheduling his days of fishing, boating and swimming at his rural cottage so as not to waste a minute of his leave.
"This helps us live up to our motto, that our employees are more important than our customers. If we have happy employees, the feeling is that it all flows down to clients," Mr. Thomas said. The sabbatical exercise already has been useful in helping people plan for contingencies and in thinking about back-up for employees in critical positions, he said. And employees will gain skills as they cross-train to cover for their traveling colleagues.