Great interest in sabbatical, especially among working women
The demands of daily work, managing home life with family or a partner, societal changes, and just life in general can be quite overwhelming. This makes it even more crucial for many people to find ways to reduce stress and minimize the risk of burnout.
Taking a sabbatical or a gap year offers a unique opportunity to step out of the usual daily routine and reevaluate one's life priorities. It allows individuals to reflect on their personal goals, values, and dreams, and to determine if they are heading in the right direction. Additionally, it promotes self-reflection and can provide clarity about long-term goals and the next steps in life.
In Germany, there is significant interest in sabbaticals, particularly among those aged 30 to 59 who are employed, and this interest is especially pronounced among working women. These insights are drawn from the results of an online survey conducted by Sabbatjahr.org, a specialized portal of the INITIATIVE auslandszeit. The survey asked 1,079 participants if they would like to take a break from their job and why. Notably, the survey had a high participation rate among women, with 72.4 percent of respondents being female.
The primary reasons for considering a career break include the desire for rest and travel, mentioned by 750 respondents, as well as the need to alleviate stress from the demands of work, noted by 720 participants. Most people expressed an interest in taking a break lasting between six to twelve months.
Who wants to take a sabbatical and why?
The desire for a sabbatical varies based on age and gender, as clearly indicated by the survey results. Interestingly, it's observed that the older individuals are, the more interested they are in taking a sabbatical. 40.7 percent of those planning a sabbatical are between 50 and 59 years old, with an additional 25.9 percent falling between the ages of 40 and 49. Younger individuals, aged 30 to 39, show considerably less interest in taking a break, accounting for 18.4 percent. Only 5.8 percent of respondents were older than 60 years, and 6.8 percent were in the 22 to 29 age group.
Frank Möller, Managing Director of INITIATIVE auslandszeit, remarks, "The pressure to perform, stress, and the desire for a break seem to be significantly more pronounced among working women than men. This is indicated by the high number of female participants in our survey."
The majority of respondents, 84.4 percent, were employed. Self-employed individuals, those currently not employed, or students accounted for a smaller portion, totaling 14.2 percent in the survey.
Motives for a sabbatical: Finding relaxation, reducing stress, and spending time with family
A sabbatical is meant to rejuvenate and provide more time for things that might be neglected during certain phases of life. When asked about their primary motives, respondents indicated that a sabbatical should offer the opportunity for relaxation and travel (69.5 percent). The second most important motive for 66.7 percent of respondents was the desire to reduce stress and avoid the risk of burnout. In third place, with 31.9 percent, respondents mentioned wanting to have more time for family (both children and parents).
Furthermore, some expressed a desire to become more involved in volunteer or social activities (17.6 percent). Others were interested in pursuing new career prospects (16.9 percent) or finally completing a long-planned project during their sabbatical (15.7 percent). When asked about their main motives for taking a sabbatical, respondents were allowed to provide up to three answers.
Length of the sabbatical: Most want to take between six months and a year off
Over 60 percent of the respondents wish to take a break for six to twelve months. Nearly 22 percent considered a sabbatical of three to six months, while only 11.5 percent preferred a shorter break of one to three months.
Sabbatical at home, abroad or both?
As for the location of the sabbatical, 40 percent of the respondents were open to both domestic and international options. On the other hand, 38.2 percent were interested in taking their break only abroad, while an additional 20.1 percent planned to stay within their home country during their sabbatical.
The Most Popular International Destinations
Among the 862 respondents who had already considered international travel destinations, Spain, New Zealand, and Italy were among their top choices. Australia, the USA, France, Thailand, Canada, and the Scandinavian countries were also in the running. Participants were allowed to select up to three preferences.
Concerns When Considering a Sabbatical
"Current major issues like the Ukraine conflict, inflation, and COVID-19 seem to have little influence on individuals' plans for a sabbatical," notes Frank Möller regarding current global challenges. Nearly 77 percent believed that the Ukraine conflict would not affect their decision to take a sabbatical. More than half (56.2 percent) of the respondents stated that inflation would not jeopardize their dream of taking a break. However, in response to another question, 45.7 percent admitted that reduced income during the sabbatical and inflation could limit their financial flexibility for planning. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a sabbatical was denied by 75 percent of the respondents, consistent with the findings of the 2021 survey. The primary challenges appeared to be related to financing and potential work conflicts.
Regarding the possibility of returning to their original workplace after the sabbatical, approximately 56 percent believed it was possible, while just under 21 percent expressed concerns about not being able to return to their former job.
Conclusion of the survey: More work-life balance desired
It is clear that many long-term employees now view sabbaticals as an important phase of life. In their comments, many expressed that they see a sabbatical as a preventive measure to avoid the risk of burnout. The desire for a break appears to be significantly stronger among women than men, as indicated by the high number of female participants.
The sabbatical, lasting from three to twelve months, provides an interruption from the daily work routine to alleviate stress, make time for a long-planned journey or a change of scenery, engage in social activities, further one's education, or simply take a breath. In today's world, where tight schedules, haste, and competition have become integral to the working environment, this form of recuperation from constant work-related stress is gaining popularity. It's not just about an extended vacation; rather, it's about opportunities to see life from a different perspective, experience something new, find more time for family, and clarify one's own aspirations and goals without pressure.
The INITIATIVE auslandszeit offers a guide on sabbaticals, providing a wealth of tips and assistance for taking a break from work. All the results from the Sabbatical Survey 2022/23 are also available there.