Work Sabbatical: Lessons Learned from a Month Away

Have you ever felt like you’re running on empty? While you probably need a vacation, a few days away from your desk may not be enough rest to regain control over your professional life. Overworked employees lead to huge problems in the workplace. In fact, 95% of HR leaders say that employee burnout is detrimental to retention. This scenario is a primary reason more and more companies are beginning to offer a long-term sabbatical to their employees.

At AC Lordi, we strive to be among these trendsetting companies. Because we want to avoid losing top employees, we offer a month-long paid sabbatical once you reach seven years of employment with the organization, a move that we, on the leadership team, believe demonstrates how much we value our employees.

Recently, I was able to take my earned sabbatical, and was thrilled to have a month to refocus my attention on both personal and professional goals. I also learned a few lessons that I believe could help other professionals, too.

Focus on Family

Brief vacations centered on a holiday or family trip can be a nice way to reconnect with your family. But, between activities, travel and other distractions, (not to mention the tug of work responsibilities in the back of your mind) it’s hard to truly get uninterrupted, quality family time.

The absolute best part of my sabbatical was the quality time I shared with my three sons. When you’re able to totally separate your personal life from your professional life, you can dedicate 100% of your attention to those you love most.

As I returned to work, I planned to continue carving time out of my schedule for my family, even when I’m busy. The time I spent with my sons will be the best memory I cherish from this sabbatical experience. I hope that other employees we provide with sabbaticals share this benefit, too.

Live in the Present

At your desk every day, engrossed in hard work, it’s difficult to live in the present. During my sabbatical, I made it a priority to totally disconnect from all my professional and leadership responsibilities and enjoy every moment, free from distractions and stress.

In an effort to live in the present, I removed the word “schedule” from my vocabulary. I took off my watch, and avoided the distraction of rushing from one item to the next on my agenda. Instead of looking forward to the next responsibility, I was able to stop and look around me. I invested time into meditation, clearing my mind each day. Sometimes, I spent that meditation time in nature; sometimes, I spent it in the quiet of my own home.

These efforts to live in the present are ones that I carried from my sabbatical back into my professional life. Instead of constantly multitasking and jumping from project to project, I will remain in the present, devoting my full attention to the task at hand.

Return Rested and Refreshed

Finally, during my sabbatical, I invested time into simply resting. Have you ever stayed up late to finish a project or woke up early to get a head start on your work for the day? While this speaks to your outstanding work ethic, it also quickly depletes your energy.

Because I was able to truly rest during my sabbatical, I came back to work refreshed, with new ideas and renewed focus. That time away from work actually helped me gain a fresh perspective on how to do my job better than ever.

Ultimately, my sabbatical afforded me invaluable time to invest in myself. The greatest lesson I drew from this experience was to continue to make time to improve.

At AC Lordi, we truly believe that an investment in our employees is an investment in our own success. That’s why we are constantly looking for ways to improve not only our operations, but our work culture as well. To attract top talent, you need to treat employee like they’re top talent. That’s a goal AC Lordi is committed to always striving for.


Lisa Hilburn, CPA is a Principal in AC Lordi’s Accounting Services practice. She has provided audit and business advisory services for private, start-up companies and Fortune 100 multinational corporations with industry experience that includes manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceutical, and not-for-profit companies. She has held key accounting roles for clients, including Consolidation Manager, Director of Accounting & Finance, and Assistant Controller. She also has seven years of Big 4 experience as an Audit Manager for Price Waterhouse. She can be reached at or 610-738-0100.


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