May 14, 2024 - Technology

Now trending: Sabbaticals

A line chart that shows the share of workers likely on sabbatical generally increased in the period January 2019 to January 2024. Two lines represent 22- to 26-year-olds and overall workers. Both lines show a similar trend with peaks in December and January each year, reaching a maximum of 8% for 22- to 26-year-olds and 6.7% overall in January 2024.
Data: Gusto; Note: Includes salaried employees with over 120 hours of paid vacation leave during the prior two months; Chart: Axios Visuals

More companies are offering sabbaticals and more workers are taking them, according to data from Gusto, a payroll platform.

The big picture: A tight labor market, remote work and Gen Z expectations are all driving the trend, Gusto chief economist Liz Wilke tells Axios.

By the numbers: The share of workers likely on sabbatical — defined by Gusto as someone who is off for three weeks or more during a two-month period — rose from 3.3% in January 2019 to 6.7% as of January this year.

  • The trend among Gen Zers was even more pronounced, jumping from 1.7% to 8%.

What they're saying: "Gen Zers are taking a lot more advantage of that benefit because they really value work-life balance," says Wilke.

The bottom line: Employers with less scale and capital to woo workers than the Walmarts of the world are "trying to respond in ways that they can," which is why Wilke says smaller businesses are offering the perk.

  • And for workers who struggle with feeling like they can't or shouldn't take vacation, sabbaticals take some of that pressure off because the "company basically decides that [they] take the time off instead," she adds.

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