Mandatory sabbaticals help retain call center staff — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Mandatory sabbaticals help retain call center staff

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Employees who celebrate their sixth anniversary at ServiceNet, a Jeffersonville, Ind., warranty-service company, don't get lapel pins to commemorate the occasion. They receive alarm clocks. Each clock counts down the year until the company boots the employee out the door ... for a mandatory paid sabbatical.

Salaried staffers are required to take off five consecutive weeks every seven years, while nonexempt workers earn a forced three-week break. Both are in addition to paid vacations.

The 10-year-old program aims to slash turnover in a business that leaves its employees prone to burnout, says Michael Neumann, manager of culture, training and enrichment. And it's working: ServiceNet manages to retain about 40 percent of its call center employees in an industry that suffers from 100 percent turnover.

Employees who take sabbaticals are required to leave their company-issued cell phones behind, and the company removes their name from most e-mail distribution lists "so you don't come back to 5 million messages in your inbox," says Neumann.

Contact: Michael Neumann at   

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