Looking for a respite from your long stressful hours at work? Or maybe you need to refresh after a particularly grueling deadline. Taking some “me time” may be the perfect solution. Taking time off from work not only helps freshen your outlook, it actually increases your productivity and success rate. Yes, that's right; letting go and taking a vacation makes you a better employee.
Increasingly, companies are realizing that a rested worker is a good worker. Human resources develops benefit packages ranging from extended vacations to memberships at local relaxation spots. Google even built spas on its campus to promote relaxation. But there's a new benefit hitting the market – “meternity.” No, we're not talking about the required maternity leave mothers have after pregnancy. meternity gives employees the option to relax and take time off.
What is “meternity?”
Coined by Meghann Foye, author of the popular novel “Meternity”, meternity leave is the necessary time off everyone deserves. Foye said she was tired of seeing colleagues take several months off because they were pregnant. She believes everyone should have the opportunity to take some mandatory leave. Women – and men – who choose not to have children never get the same opportunity. Their life has room for work and standard vacation – no more, no less.
Though Foye may be on to an excellent idea, some think the concept of a meternity leave is disrespectful and doesn't consider the actual reality of maternity leave. Mothers and fathers preparing for long-term caregiving roles say maternity is no bed of roses. Nights are filled with crying, burping, changing diapers, feeding and worrying about their newborn. The “free time” doesn't leave much room for reflecting or resting.
Either way, whether you love the idea or recoil from the implications, meternity leave is making its mark on the modern world. Several national corporations have melded the philosophy into its benefit package. Here are six companies who offer some form of “me time.”
Goldman Sachs is known for its lucrative benefits. What many may not realize however, is that it has an extended meternity allowance. While not considered a typical sabbatical, Goldman Sachs' Returnship program allows team members to return to work after an extended absence of 24 to 52 weeks. The company instituted the program to help talented professionals restart their careers – hence Returnship. The program includes a paid, ten-week training series. Training covers important information about the company, changes since the employee left and cross-departmental training to provide new opportunities.
Genentech provides employees with paid and unpaid sabbatical leave to help them focus on personal issues, pursue professional development or just unwind and refresh their minds. Genentech's founders believed in affording employees the opportunity to advance their careers through academic research. The program was originally designed to allow team members time to research and train. Based in San Francisco, CA, the biotechnology firm is a subsidiary of world-famous Roche medical. Genentech provides up to six-weeks meternity. But there's a catch. Employees must put in six years at the company before they are eligible for this benefit. Meternity leave can be used with vacation time or separately. Genentech also is listed as one of Fortune's best companies to work for in 2016.
If frequency is what you're looking for, Ohio-based software company Hyland is the way to go. If relaxing for two to four weeks every year isn't enough, Hyland offers a little me time in between. Employees are provided a four-week sabbatical in addition to the standard two-week to one-month vacations. Employees who put in eight years are eligible to take four-weeks meternity every five years. Hyland started offering personal time in 2014. The company reports 210 employees have come back from their meternity leave feeling relaxed and ready to conquer the world.
The Boston Consulting Group.
Fortune's third best company to work for knows the importance of letting employees go. Go and leave that is. The Boston Consulting Group learned that providing extended sabbaticals in addition to standard leave and vacation provides team members the opportunity to advance their careers, bring new ideas to the company and become better leaders. To help accomplish this, The Boston Consulting Group provides eight weeks paid meternity to those who have been a partner with the firm for five years. That's correct. While all team members get standard leave, only the top dogs are allotted me time. Though, the 20 days' yearly vacation makes up for it.
The Container Store.
Who knew selling containers could be so stressful? The Container Store recognizes the extra work performed by veteran team members by offering them a chance to take continuing education classes, go on an extended vacation or do nothing. The home goods and storage container retailer provides full-time employees who have 10 years of experience with the company a chance to take a two weeks of paid sabbatical. The meternity leave comes in addition to their four-week vacation every year. While the company doesn't report any criteria other than seniority, most companies restrict sabbatical to once every five to ten years.
Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI).
One would think working for a recreational store would be relaxing enough. REI rolls out the red carpet and provides employees with even more relaxation. The camping goods retailer offers its team members four consecutive weeks. But there's a catch. Employees must put in 15 years with the company to be eligible. Unlike most companies who provide a meternity program, REI lets team members take another four weeks every five years. This me time is provided in addition to the standard four weeks' vacation. That's right. Veteran campers have the luxury of earning two months' total leave every five years.
Balancing me time with vacation leave.
Four to eight weeks leave may seem like heaven to some workers. After tolling the months away working their poor bones bare, meternity is a blessing. Like all blessings, we must take me time in stride. Don't waste your time off on silly vacations, migraine headaches or family outings. This is special time, reserved for refreshing the soul and detoxing your system. Most employees never enjoy an extended time away from work. Use yours responsibly.
Instead of squandering your meternity leave on trivial wonderings, first cash out your vacation and other paid leave. These are renewed every year and can help provide you with time off for important activities. For example, save your meternity for a relaxing, extended trip to Europe or take those refresher course for a promotion. Use vacation time for family reunions, graduations and summer playtime. Trust us; when you squander me time on other endeavors, you'll regret it when you really need an energizer.
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