In an effort to inform and inspire our members and friends, we often share diversity and flexibility Bright Spots – those small or large successes that impact an organization in a positive way. We believe that important diversity and flexibility initiatives can truly impact your organization’s bottom line, recruitment and retention capabilities and employee satisfaction.
BRIGHT SPOT: Katten’s Sabbatical Program
Law firm Katten, Muchin Rosenman’s Associate Sabbatical Program is a unique Bright Spot because it offers the firm’s Associates a four-week, paid sabbatical once they have completed their fifth year at the firm. Associates must also meet their hours’ requirement two out of the three previous years to be eligible. The Sabbatical program has been in place since 2001 and allows Associates to take four weeks off for any activity or reason of their choosing. Associates are not required to submit any kind of formal plan for the sabbatical – Associates may take trips, dive into personal projects, extend family leaves, or use the Sabbatical for anything else that they choose.
The most remarkable aspect of Kattan’s Sabbatical program is that virtually ALL (95%) Associates take advantage of this benefit and many plan for the time off long in advance. Katten reports that equal numbers of men and women participate and it is quite unusual not to take advantage of the Sabbatical. This high level of participation demonstrates Katten’s supportive firm culture and a leadership that truly values flexibility and employee wellness. Associates are not afraid of any negative stigma that could be associated with taking time away from the office, and, in fact, participation in this program is encouraged by Partners and other leadership.
The Sabbatical is also available to lateral Associates after they have been with Katten the required five years. If multiple Associates are eligible at the same time, Practice Group Leaders are responsible for coordinating the schedules to ensure client coverage. The Associates’ billable hours are protected during the sabbatical so that targets and bonuses are not impacted.
Katten Chief Executive Officer Noah S. Heller views the Sabbatical program as a “way to reward Associates for their dedication, and a means of enhancing their work-life balance. By offering them the opportunity to temporarily step away from their daily work responsibilities, we give them a chance to recharge and come back to work re-energized.”
The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance recognized Kattan’s Sabbatical Program as one of our 2020 Flex Impact Awards during our annual conference, Moments of Impact: Transforming Organizational Culture. It is our hope that the ripple affect will be that other firms and corporations are encouraged to consider offering their employees sabbaticals as well.
Kattan reports that its Sabbatical program is instrumental in its recruiting efforts and has helped them to recruit and retain top talent. Additionally, leadership states that the Sabbatical provides Associates with a “boost in morale, productivity and creativity.”