Feature Model Practice Sabbatical Program
Adobe Systems Incorporated
Principle II: Work Life Balance and Career Development
2014 Challenge Submission
Not many companies offer Sabbaticals these days. Paying employees to take extended time off seems to contradict the way many organizations expect their employees to work: faster and for longer hours. But Adobe sees the world a little differently, understanding that well-balanced employees are happy, engaged employees. Adobe believes that taking time to focus on personal wellness and interests is essential to the mental, emotional, and physical health and productivity of employees. In addition, the company recognizes that all employees have different needs for taking time off, which is why it offers a variety of programs to provide employees with opportunities to relax, recharge, and return to work with a renewed commitment to Adobe’s future. Standing out from peers in its industry, Adobe continues to differentiate itself with its Sabbatical program.
“Time with my family is precious and I felt so grateful to be able to use my sabbatical to create wonderful memories with my husband and son. I was fortunate to be able to join our son Kyle at five different golf tourneys in Washington and California.”
Senior Vice President, Global People & Places
While the Sabbatical program is appreciated and utilized by Adobe employees across levels, geographies, and with diverse personal needs, female employees are particularly able to utilize the offering to achieve work-life balance and personal health. The ways in which Adobe women have used their Sabbatical range from extending maternity leave to volunteering with Doctors Without Borders; from planning a child’s wedding to taking a dream vacation, quite literally, around the world. It is a unique and highly valued benefit which Adobe provides to energize and engage both employees and leaders alike.
Employees are encouraged to share their sabbatical experiences on Adobe’s Life Blog and their annual engagement survey. Below are some direct employee quotes:
• “The sabbatical program is a benefit that encourages people to stay with the company and makes employees feel rewarded for their time and effort.”
• “The sabbatical program is amazing and a rare find these days! Everyone loves it and waits anxiously for their next one!”
How does this model practice work?
Following are the guidelines for Adobe’s sabbatical that provides paid time off based on years of service:
The Sabbatical program is offered in addition to the Exempt Time Off and Non-Exempt Time Off programs. It is available to any employee who has completed at least five years of continuous employment and is scheduled to work at least 24 hours a week.
Furthermore, Adobe provides flexibility on when the employee can take their earned Sabbatical – the only restriction being that it must be taken within two years of eligibility. Additional time off can also be utilized to extend a Sabbatical. Importantly, the employee’s benefits continue as if they are still working, as they are paid at regular salary/commission/bonus and retirement plan vesting is not affected.
How can I adopt this model practice in my workplace?
The Sabbatical practice is available to any employee in US, Canada, Japan, and India who meets the stipulated requirements of continuous service, and is scaled to employees across the United States as well as several other countries in which Adobe operates. Businesses can adopt this practice to provide an opportunity for employees to relax, recharge, and return to work with a renewed commitment to the company’s future.
“My sabbatical experiences have changed my values…What’s become important to me is saving money to travel and exploring how other parts of the world live.”
Executive Compensation Manager
In addition to the Sabbatical overview described above, the following details provide a comprehensive view of the program and employee eligibility:
• Although the Sabbatical can be deferred for up to 24 months, it must be taken as one continuous period.
• Case-by-case exceptions are granted to extend the 24-month period if there are critical business needs which require the employee to postpone a Sabbatical.
• Sabbaticals are automatically extended by the amount of Adobe-paid breaks and holidays that fall during time away, which include annual company-wide paid shut-downs for both the week of the July 4th and December 25th.
• Sabbaticals can also be extended if the employee becomes ill or injured while away.
• The intent of the program is to provide employees with an opportunity to take extended time away from work in addition to any other company time off in order to rejuvenate and then return to work. As such Adobe does not provide a Sabbatical cash-out option in lieu of taking the Sabbatical, nor can it be taken in multiple, shorter durations.
• If an employee is eligible to take a sabbatical but terminates their employment while they are within the designated period of time to take it (i.e. within 24 months from becoming eligible) the sabbatical is paid out upon termination.