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Why you should take a career break 

Grant Torrens, Managing Director, Hays Japan


One in four businesses on Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ offer a paid career break. But, what are they and are you eligible for one?

A career break is a period of leave, agreed upon with the employer, during which the employee fulfils personal ambitions and development. Career breaks can last for as little as a couple of months, but most people tend to take around a year off.

During my time I chose to travel around Asia and Australia, before deciding to relocate to Hays Singapore. One candidate I know took a year off to renovate two properties that he had bought, whilst another decided to up skill herself by completing an academic course. It’s really down to you and your employer on how you spend your career break.

Before even proposing a career break to your boss, it’s crucial that you’ve properly planned ahead. However tempting, never opt for a career break because you are feeling overwhelmed or under pressure at work. You will still have to return to work once the break is over, and often, not much will have changed. Instead plan for your career break to be a time of personal growth and self-development, which stands to benefit both you and your employer.

How could you benefit from a career break?

1. Recharge your batteries

You may want to use your time to celebrate your career up until now. Content with what you’ve achieved in your career so far, your career break could be a useful opportunity to recharge the batteries. After some self-assessment, you will be ready to return to your job with greater focus and determination.

2. Improve your skill set

Learning a language, taking a university course or even improving a sport is of benefit to both you and your employer. Developing yourself in any of these ways will increase your own competence, whilst also making you more of an asset to your employer.

3. Plan ahead

You may choose to use this time to plan for the next stage in your personal or professional life. This could mean reorganising your financial situation, retirement plans, parenthood ambitions, and so on. Our careers are often so demanding that we are rarely afforded an opportunity to sit down and consider the next chapter.

How could your employer benefit from your career break?

1. Retain experienced employees

An employee who has had time to reflect, progress and plan for the future will inevitably return to work feeling refreshed and motivated. Providing employees with the opportunity to take time off to achieve something interesting will also help strengthen their loyalty to the business.

2. Develop employees

Having a senior employer take a career break is a great opportunity to educate other employees in the responsibilities that have been temporarily vacated. This helps the professional development of these employees and leads to a more competent and skilled workforce.

3. A good advert

Offering a career break promotes the fact that a business cares about the health and progression of their employees. This can only enhance the employer’s brand.

A final thought

If you are fortunate enough to qualify for a career break or you’re an employer who’s considering such an initiative, then I hope these points have provided food for thought. Career breaks create and foster productive and happy employees, who then in turn help fuel successful business.

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Grant is the Managing Director for Hays in Japan. He has been with Hays for 16 years, enjoying a career that has spanned three countries. Joining as a consultant in 2006 in London where he recruited Accountancy & Finance professionals within the Banking & Financial Services sector, Grant relocated to Japan in 2021. The past 16 years has seen Grant recruit and manage across various teams. He now is responsible for Hays’ Japan operations and a team of specialist consultants that cover 12 specialisms including Accountancy & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Technology & Life Sciences.


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