After 5 years of service, Influence Health employees are offered the opportunity for a sabbatical. The primary purpose of the Sabbatical Program is to allow employees time to recharge, rejuvenate, and return to work re-energized. Sabbaticals are planned, strategic job-pauses during which an employee should take time to engage in activities they may not otherwise have the time to do such as travel, volunteer, do research, learn a new skill, or fulfill a lifelong dream before returning to work.
Jody Hart, Director, Web Engineering, shares about his sabbatical.
1. What do you do at Influence Health and what is your title?
I am the Director of Web Engineering, which means I oversee and manage the developers for our content management system (CMS) team.
2. Where did you go and why did you choose to go there?
I went to Ireland and England. My wife and I visited Ireland in 2012 (as part of an international group of delegates) and absolutely loved it. So we decided to take our 2 daughters and invite a couple of friends to go with us. I, in particular, loved the beauty of the countryside and the friendly demeanor of everyone we met – even total strangers.
3. How long did it take to plan the trip?
Not very long, since we already knew people there from our previous visit. When I was there the first time, we made fast friends, one of whom has a large home and invited us to come stay whenever we wanted. So we took her up on it! She put us all up for 3 weeks, and we had a blast. My wife and her 2 friends that accompanied us spent weeks going over recommendations and travel guides of places to visit in order to come up with their list... but I don’t count that in how long it took me to plant it. I was just going to show up and go wherever. Every place is gorgeous and memorable. Getting the airfare and vehicle arrangements were not too difficult, but it is amazing how many challenges international travel has just in and of itself.
4. What did your manager say when you asked for the time off?
I don’t recall the exact words, but he was very supportive… happy for me, and could have been a bit jealous.
5. Share a favorite memory or two from your trip.
There are so many, but one that stands out is when we took our daughters to London. It was pretty expensive to fly the 4 of us, so we took a ferry across the Irish Sea to Holyhead, England… then took a bus to London. That was a VERY long night, but they were troopers. The whole weekend in London was fantastic, and the additional adventure on the ferry was cool.
6. How did you feel on your first day back in the office?
We had a few days set at the end of our trip to rest up, which was really a good decision. I came back ready to hit the ground running.
7. What would you tell someone worried about being gone/letting go of their projects for that long?
It is amazing how quickly the time goes. I would say to trust in your team, trust in your peers… and leave good notes for them. Everything will work out – you can count on them.
8. Would you do it again? If so, what would you do differently?
Absolutely. I would probably spend a little more time in the volunteer work we do to support the Deaf community. That was the main reason we went the first time. My sabbatical trip was much more for pleasure, but we ended up spending time doing both. More time to share with the deaf would have made it even more rewarding. But I would also spend more time in the pub that plays the traditional Irish music on Sunday nights. That was really great!
9. Anything else you’d like to share about your sabbatical?
Having someone familiar with where to go and what to do was very helpful. Our friends there were great about recommending good places to eat and helping us avoid busy times or typically unforeseen complications. The inside scoop made for smoother experiences. We were able to do almost everything we wanted to… which I think is even better than actually doing everything planned. It leaves room for another trip!
10. When did you take your trip?
July 2015. Time flies…
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