The Clif Sabbatical: Claudia P.
Every seven years, Clif Bar & Company wants us to leave. All of us, every employee, to get out. But it’s a good thing; in fact a great thing! It’s the Clif Bar sabbatical benefit—six to eight weeks to do whatever we want. To refresh ourselves. Recharge our batteries. Foster personal growth and renewal.
Believe us, we don’t take sabbatical for granted. We know we are fortunate. Only 3 percent of U.S. companies offer this enviable perk. In this series, we'll see what some of our employees have to say about it:
Claudia Perkins, Vice President of Human Resources
How many Clif employees have taken sabbaticals?
More than 100 current employees have had sabbaticals. We have one 20-year employee who is coming up on her third. Most people are on their first, and a couple of dozen are on their second.
What do they do with their time off?
There’ve been people who took sabbatical to walk their kid to school every day. I think that’s beautiful. One employee did an internship at a high-end butcher shop. Some take classes. Others travel with family or to see family.
What did you do on yours?
My husband and I went to a Mosaic of Peace Conference in Israel and Palestine. It was organized by the Presbyterian Church USA through their peacemaking mission. It was part travel in Israel and Palestine, and part conference. About 100 people from all over the U.S. attended. We met with religious and community leaders of all faiths. I was frankly surprised about how little I knew about the situation there because the media only talks about the extreme points of view, and don’t dive into what peacemakers are doing. The biggest impact for me was the amount of hope coming from the people on the ground.
After Israel, I came back and cleaned out the garage for a week. Then we went with friends to Kauai for a week. That was relaxing. Kauai is pretty boring—in a good way!
Clif Bar offers an array of benefits. Where does sabbatical rank with employees?
It’s in the top five. Employees also really like our 980 benefit (work 9 hour days and take every other Friday off) and the wellness programs, which include paid time during the day to use our onsite gym and work out with personal trainers. Our basic health and welfare benefits like medical and dental insurance also score very high in employee surveys, as does our 401k contribution program.
Did sabbatical change your outlook on life?
I’d never had 8 weeks off in my adult life before. I might have taken 3 weeks off once. Sabbatical felt like a tremendous gift of time and an opportunity to gain perspective on all of the good aspects of work and the meaning you get from people. When you return, it helps you pick your spots. The regular work frustrations don’t seem as great when you realize that work is just one component of your life.