by Max Brantley
You've heard of the layoff. You've heard of the furlough, a somewhat less painful way for a company to cut costs in these hard times. You've heard of companies' requests for voluntary reductions in hours (some not quite as voluntary as some companies have described them, we are now being told locally).
Now add the unpaid "sabbatical" as a potential cost-cutter. Acxiom, the Little Rock-based data manager, which recently announced a big quarterly loss, has recently told its employees about a sabbatical program in which they may take four to eight weeks off this year without pay, but with continuing health benefits. It's cast as a new fringe benefit that many had asked about for educational and other opportunities. It's friendlier, but the bottom line is the same. Reduction in expenses.
Sent: Monday, January 26, 2009 3:15 PM
To: usassociates - Acxiom US Associates
Subject: New Benefit - Acxiom Sabbatical Program
Over the last couple of years, many of you have asked about the opportunity to take sabbaticals to pursue personal endeavors. I am very excited to announce that we are introducing a pilot of this new benefit. It is called the Acxiom Sabbatical Program. The program is effective February 1 and continues through September 30. Anyone who is eligible to participate can select unpaid time off for either four, six or eight weeks and will be provided with a job guarantee—meaning there will be no “without cause” termination (absent a significant business change like loss of business)—for 90 days upon return.
While I know everyone won’t be able to take advantage of the program, for some it could provide an immediate chance to participate in educational opportunities, pursue charitable work, take an extended vacation or finish a time consuming at-home project that normal work hours typically wouldn’t permit. If the pilot is a success, there is a likely chance we will continue offering the sabbatical benefit indefinitely.
Associates interested in participating in the program should read the full details in the attached program document and follow the approval process outlined there. There is also a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document designed to provide more clarity around the sabbatical pilot that is included in the Program Document. Most of the questions will be answered in the attached, however if you have a question that is not addressed, please send it to HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com"firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those of you taking advantage of the new program, I hope you find it beneficial and the time off rewarding.