Chalet Couple | How to ask for your Sabbatical

Okay folks, I said in our last blog how I ratted out and gave in to the commercial working world and gained a sabbatical for our winter away. But I didn’t explain how I did it. There are pointers to take away from this because you can royally fuck this up if you don’t do it properly.

And then what are you left with?

Threatening your employers that you’ll leave anyway for them to replace you with some spotty faced 21 year old straight out of uni and you leaving on your last day with your tail firmly between your legs. Get it right. This shits important.

First things first, formulate a document for your employers/boss.

This document is important. It’ll be the one you hand over to your boss when you first request the sabbatical and it needs to say exactly why you buggering off for 5 months could even in the slightest be beneficial to them.

Now, like the application for the chalet role, it may need a clinical amount of bullshit added. Other than where you are going and how long for, think of the transferable skills that you’ll bring back to the company on your return. Hosting a party every night = development of communication skills among a range of different people. Welcoming guests every week = better public speaking. Understanding what Petit Dejèuner, Frites and Bière is = improving foreign language skills. Cooking a shit load of food, cleaning bogs and functioning on a hangover whilst also maximising your time on the slopes = perfecting your time management skills.

It doesn’t matter how you wrap it really, just make damn sure they think you’ll come back a better person and employee. Who cares if you don’t, they don’t need to know that!

However, don’t just wrap it up as all positive. Do let them know you’ve thought about the negatives too, but come up with solutions so they don;t have to!

For example, when you fuck off, who’s gunna do your work? Well, state that you’re happy to work more up until you go (you may not need to but again, fuck it they don’t know that yet and it looks good). Say you’ll facilitate a hand over period to whoever (unfortunate bastard) is nominated to pick up your slack. Say you’ll train others into the role. If you have anyone who works down the chain (assistant/associate types) say you’ll pass certain aspects of work to them and buddy them until you go. If there’s other negatives, basically don’t ignore them. Just come up with a sort of solution. As long as it sounds good on paper, it doesn’t matter if when you’re gone it doesn’t actually practically work!!

And finally, I put a personal reason why. This is dodgy ground depending on your circumstances but it can act as the perfect guilt trip. Never had the chance to travel? Doing it before responsibilities of life/kids/house etc? Great Grandma just died and it’ll help you with your spirituality and emotional stability? Go for it…bring in all the feels!!

Get that document in early

We knew about our Chalet Couple role 18 months in advance so we had plenty of time to prepare. But, I still waited until I got a promotion and then gave them 6 months notice – still plenty of time as an employer. Just think, the longer they have to prepare and sort out the work that you’re just throwing up in the air, the more chance they’ll be lenient with the request.

Build that relationship with your manager

I can’t emphasise this point enough. They are the ones who accept or reject your proposal. Not their boss. Not HR. Your manager. Work on building a good relationship, particularly before you request the sabbatical. Buy them that extra pint. Do what they say and do it quickly. Become less argumentative. Dive your nose as far up their anus as you can. It might be shit at the time (literally) but it’ll be worth it when you’re away. And when you come back, there’s plenty of time to revert back to being an arsehole!

Finally, check your policy

Does your work even have one? Do you have to work there for 10 years to be eligible for one? Can you take the full amount of time off? Is it fully unpaid? Do you have to phone in every month? Make sure you know the facts of the policy and bring it with you when booking a meeting with your manager. Chances are they won’t have a fucking clue what the policy states, so at this point you are the expert – use it to your advantage!

Then all that’s left is booking that meeting in, or add some time onto your 1:1’s if you have them. Don’t be too forceful with it and say it was a tough decision but something you feel you have to do now (link it to the personal reasons above and really tear at the heartstrings if necessary!). Allow them time to go away and think about it. For me, I asked for an answer within 2 weeks. I felt that way it made sure it wasn’t forgotten or swept under the carpet, but that’s up to you.

Get it accepted and what a weight off your shoulders you will feel. No job hunting or interviewing on your return. And no Aunt Lizzy on your shoulder asking ‘isn’t it time you got a real job now’? Fuck. Off. Lizzy.

Chalet Couple x

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