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Embrace the Pause: Why Taking Sabbaticals and Career Breaks is the Ultimate Burnout Prevention Strategy 

As a strategy professional in today’s fast paced environment the lines between work and personal life often blur. Balance is hard to achieve, and burnout is real. Finding balance is a constant challenge, and burnout lurks as a real threat. 

A report by the University of Melbourne reveals some alarming statistics. 81% of the Australian workforce is grappling with stress and burnout. Even more alarming is that this surpasses the global average of 73%.  

Dr. Brendan Churchill, a sociologist and co-author of the report, noted, “With high rates of fatigue and exhaustion among younger and middle-aged workers, it’s no surprise that over a third of prime-aged workers in Australia are considering quitting their jobs.” 

At Oaktree Talent, we recognise the crucial importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Not only for immediate well-being but also for long-term career fulfilment.  

The pressure to perform at an elevated level, meet tight project deadlines, and juggle responsibilities can take a toll on both mental and physical well-being.  

So, what is the solution?  

Understanding Burnout 

Before we explore the benefits of sabbaticals and career breaks, let us define burnout. It is more than feeling tired or stressed. The Australian Government describe it as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion resulting from prolonged stress, excessive workload, and a lack of fulfilment or purpose in one’s work”. 

For strategy professionals, who often work long hours, travel frequently, and face intense pressure to deliver results, burnout can manifest in several ways: 

  • Chronic fatigue and exhaustion 
  • Feelings of cynicism or detachment from work 
  • Reduced productivity and motivation 
  • Increased susceptibility to illness and health issues 
  • Strained relationships with colleagues and clients 

Unchecked burnout can have profound consequences on both our careers and our well-being. 

At Oaktree Talent, we are committed to supporting our candidates in maintaining their well-being. That is why we have developed a simple two-minute checklist to assess burnout. This tool aims to help individuals identify any signs of burnout and take the necessary steps to prevent it. You can find the assessment tool here. 

Sabbaticals and Career Breaks as a Prevention Strategy 

Amid the burnout epidemic, sabbaticals and career breaks have emerged as powerful tools for rejuvenation, renewal, and personal growth. Here is why taking time off from work can be the ultimate burnout prevention strategy:  

Rest and Recovery – Burnout often stems from extreme stress and exhaustion. Taking a break from work allows us to rest and recover. Stepping away from the daily grind can recharge our batteries and replenish our energy reserves. 

Stress Reduction – Continuous exposure to workplace stress can contribute to burnout. Time away from work provides us with the opportunity to remove ourselves from these stresses. During this time, we can gain perspective and promote relaxation, making it easier to manage stress upon our return. 

Work-Life Balance – Maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life is crucial for preventing burnout. Sabbaticals and career breaks allow us to focus on our personal well-being. Time off work gives us more time for activities that bring us joy and fulfilment. Integrating lessons on achieving balance into our work life post-break is essential. 

Perspective and Reflection – Stepping back from our day-to-day work allows us to gain perspective. A time to reflect on our career goals and values. The opportunity to pinpoint areas of dissatisfaction or burnout. This introspective process empowers us to make necessary changes when we return.  Working with a coach can help achieve this and ensure that the magic from the sabbatical or career break is woven back into life post time off. 

Personal Growth and Development – Sabbaticals and career breaks offer opportunities for personal growth and development. Whether it’s pursuing hobbies, traveling, volunteering, or furthering education, engaging in different activities broadens our perspectives and enhances our well-being. 

Building Resilience – Taking a career break or sabbatical can help to build resilience. Investing in self-care and personal development during our time off equips us with the skills and mindset needed to navigate challenges. We can use these skills to help us bounce back from setbacks, reducing the likelihood of burnout. 

Work-Life Integration – Many contractors are embracing a different approach to work-life balance through work-life integration. Rather than viewing work and personal life as separate entities, they see them as interconnected. This mindset shift allows contractors to weave mini career breaks into their work life. Listen to S4 EP10 of the Strategy Bites Podcast to hear how ex Roland Berger consultant Mailys Pauletto has done exactly this.  

Conclusion 

In conclusion, taking a sabbatical or career break can be the ultimate burnout prevention strategy. By prioritising rest, relaxation, reflection, and personal growth, we can achieve greater success and career fulfilment.    

So, why not embrace the pause and give yourself the gift of time away from work—it may be the best investment you ever make in your future.