Issue 144 - 01 | The Midlife Gap Year: Why More Companies Should Offer Employee Sabbaticals

By Phyllis Korkki
Published Aug. 10, 2016 10:00 a.m.
“It’s time to make a midcareer gap year an accepted part of people’s working lives.

The academic world has long recognized the importance of sabbaticals as a way to press the refresh button on one’s life and work. Some companies (including Deloitte, Genentech, General Mills and Kimpton and PriceWaterhouseCoopers) offer sabbaticals to their employees, but these tend to last a few weeks to a few months—not enough time for a complete break from the daily grind.

Rather than call a break from a nonacademic job a sabbatical, I think we need to call it a gap year—so that it is modeled after the year that some students take off between high school and college. For these young people just starting out in life, taking a gap year is a time to explore new interests and develop of sense of independence. For middle-age aged people, it can be a similar journey, but with more of the richness of the past to inform it.

A midcareer gap year is an important step to incorporate into people’s professional and personal lives because of two major societal changes: extended longevity and a transformed work world.”

About Phyllis Korkki | Phyllis Korkki is an assignment editor and reporter for The New York Times Sunday Business section. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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