The Clif Sabbatical: Sunny M
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:
Sunny, what did you do on sabbatical?
We started out in France in July (2015), camping and backpacking in Parc Ecrins, one of the national parks in the Alps. I went with my husband, who is French, and our two sons. We also spent a week with my husband’s family in a rented a house on the beach in Biscarrosse. It was great to have all that time to spend with his family. Our plan A of backpacking in the Pyrenees was thwarted because there was a big storm expected in that area, so we decided to do a road trip through France. It turned out really well because we saw the start of one of the stages of the Tour de France, visited one of the largest bamboo forests in Europe and spent time in Avignon.
Then we did a quick trip to Carcassonne, a walled medieval city in France, and then a week in Barcelona, where I loved seeing all of the sights designed by Gaudi, experiencing the culture and trying all sorts of different food.
How much in advance did you start thinking about it?
I’ve been at Clif Bar for seven years. Sabbatical was something I always thought about because we do like to travel a lot. I started really thinking about it a year before it began. As co-workers were coming back from their sabbaticals and telling me what they did, I started getting more and more excited. I haven’t had that much time off ever in my working life.
What about your work? Is it hard to be gone for many weeks?
I was able to get a lot done before I left. Folks on the CLIF Kid team pitched in to cover for me on projects while I was away. When you’re gone for a longer period of time, you have to delegate and let things go. That speaks a lot to the trust we have in our coworkers—everyone pitched in and helped.
What did sabbatical mean to you?
To be able to reclaim part of your life just for you is priceless. Especially when your kids are in those preteen years, it’s great to give them a vacation like that to remember. Given that much time off, it really gives you time to unplug and disconnect. I came back rejuvenated. It’s great that Clif Bar gives us this opportunity to pursue whatever we want to do for a big chunk of time. It represents the company’s commitment to employees, and it’s one of many unique things about Clif that keeps employees happy.