General News

Foundation adopts sabbatical leave policy

The Switzer Foundation recently reviewed our employee policies and benefits to ensure they reflect our commitment to embed equity and justice in all our operations, and in order to help us recruit, support, and retain excellent staff. One resulting change was to create a sabbatical leave policy that matches the best practices of peer organizations* and provides equitable benefits to all foundation employees.

Sabbatical leaves are personally valuable for individuals, reducing stress and improving well-being. They can help leaders to reconnect with the purpose of their work, avoid burnout, and return with better balance. Sabbatical leaves are also valuable for organizations, increasing innovation and improving collaboration. They can help organizations to strengthen their governance and capacity as other team members take on new skills and responsibilities. Many of you will recall that our prior Executive Director, Lissa Widoff, took a sabbatical in 2015. Her sabbatical announcement and her post-sabbatical reflections described many benefits that taking time away can provide.

Our new policy makes sabbatical leaves available to all long-term employees of the foundation. Staff must have completed at least seven years of consecutive service in order to be eligible for sabbatical leave, and they are asked to commit to at least one year’s employment with the foundation after returning. Staff may request up to 12 weeks of sabbatical leave, which must be taken continuously. They will receive partial compensation, which may be supplemented by accrued paid time off (PTO), and continuation of benefits. Due to our small staff size, only one foundation employee will be granted sabbatical leave per year.

With 18 years of service to the foundation, Program Director Erin Lloyd will be the first staff member to pilot the new sabbatical program. In collaboration with the rest of the team, Erin is planning carefully for her absence. Though there is much to consider and a whole lot of preparation required when a member of a small team plans an extended leave, there are opportunities too. There is the opportunity to reflect on what are the truly critical tasks and priorities that should be continued with the assistance of other staff. There is also the opportunity to think creatively about how we can energize our network of fellows to support each other. And, there is the opportunity for staff to work together in new ways. In short, there is an opportunity to think differently about our work and how we accomplish it that may provide long-term benefits to the staff team, the fellows, and the foundation.

Erin’s sabbatical will take place October 3, 2022 through January 2, 2023. Fellows should refer to Erin’s post to the listserv for instructions about whom to contact for specific needs while she is away. Please contact Cora if you have trouble accessing the listserv post. Erin looks forward to sharing reflections with the network from this time away, when she returns in early January.


*Below are some of the resources that we consulted to design our sabbatical leave policy: