New 9 Clouds Sabbatical Program: “Oh, The Places We’ll Go…”

New 9 Clouds Sabbatical Program: “Oh, The Places We’ll Go…”

One of my favorite parts of our yearly retreats is when I get to make company culture announcements as CEO.

This year, in addition to announcing 9 Clouds would start offering group health insurance as an employee benefit, I announced a sabbatical program for long-term team members.

Here’s what that program looks like and why we’re offering it as one of our employee benefits at 9 Clouds.

What Our Sabbatical Program Is

When an employee hits five years at 9 Clouds, they will get an additional two weeks (10 business days) of paid time off (PTO) to be used all together during their fifth year, as well as up to $2,000 in airfare and an additional $1,200.

At 10 years, the employee will receive an additional one month (20 business days) of PTO to be used all together during their tenth year, as well as up to $2,000 in airfare and an additional $2,400.

The only stipulation is that the employee needs to submit the plan for their sabbatical at least two months in advance of their start date. That way, we can plan our team workload proactively around their extra time off.

Why We Introduced a Sabbatical Benefit

Carnes Thailand Photo | Sabbatical ProgramIf I’m 100% honest, I stole this concept from Epic, a company my sister works for.

For her five-year sabbatical at the end of last year, she chose to travel to Thailand, and I accompanied her. I got to see firsthand the fruits that can come from rewarding loyal employees in this way.

Inspired by my sister’s sabbatical, we decided to institute a similar program at 9 Clouds for three main reasons. 

The first reason we’re offering a sabbatical benefit is to give employees an extended break to strive toward.

Unless you work in education, you don’t get any summers off or normal breaks to look forward to, and I know most of us adults miss that. A sabbatical program can meet that need for a long break.

Another reason we instituted a sabbatical benefit at 9 Clouds is that it incentivizes people to stay at our company.

Younger generations are known to bounce from job to job throughout their professional career. On top of losing talent, onboarding and training new employees is a huge business expense. We hope that sponsoring a sabbatical will help keep good people at 9 Clouds.

The final reason we instituted a sabbatical program is that we know money isn’t everything.

Most people in younger generations value experiences over money, and a sabbatical is an adventure our team members can choose for themselves. We want to encourage our team to do something they wouldn’t otherwise.

As part of our manifesto, we say, “Your background and experiences shape who you are but do not limit your potential.” This sabbatical program is one way we’re trying to live that out.

Oh, the Places We’ll Go…

We have very few stipulations on employees’ use of this time and money, so I’m so excited to see what our team will do with their sabbaticals.

It may seem like a crazy concept to offer a benefit like this, but ask yourself whether a sabbatical program might provide a solution for an opportunity or problem your business has.

  • Do you want your team members to continue to grow as individuals as well as employees of your company?
  • Do you have trouble retaining employees?
  • Would a sabbatical contribute to one of your core values and thus positively impact your company culture?
  • Do you want to live vicariously through others?

If so, you may want to consider offering a sabbatical program at your company. You might be surprised by how well it pays off.

I recently hit my five-year anniversary at 9 Clouds, so I’ll be taking my own sabbatical at the end of this year. The details are TBD — but in the words of Dr. Seuss, I’m so excited to see “all the places we’ll go.”