With the year end upon you and many workplaces closing, reducing hours or accommodating employee vacations because of the holidays, this column focuses on rewards in the form of time away from work that is not so common -- sabbaticals. Sabbaticals are a generous benefit to those workers who have them. And they can clearly be an important part of a total rewards package. According to inc.com, while 5% of firms in the US offer sabbaticals, 25% of the companies listed in "Best Companies to Work For" offer them. Corporate sabbaticals, however, aren't typically as generous in length as those offered to academics. At the same time, while on sabbatical, most faculty are furthering their research, which is a large part of their job. Trying to understand whether sabbaticals increase productivity or profits, even morale or job satisfaction, is a lot more difficult than it seems. To do this well, it is important to have a credible and believable research design. Knowing better the return on investment of sabbaticals will be important.

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