After a little break over the holidays I have started to put together the stats on the recent survey I conducted on the topic of career breaks. The survey was a great success and I am excited to bring some new research forward to help people realize their dream of taking time off to pursue their personal goals.
Let’s get started with some basics.
|Accountancy, banking and finance||15%|
|Health and social care||10%|
|IT and information services||10%|
|Media and publishing||7%|
|Teaching and education||6%|
|Energy and utilities||4%|
|Retail and sales||4%|
|Engineering and manufacturing||3%|
|Marketing, advertising and Public Relations||3%|
|Property and construction||3%|
|Transport and logistics||3%|
|Creative arts and culture||1%|
|Environment and agriculture||1%|
|Science and pharmaceuticals||1%|
The survey had a good mix of respondents, with a pretty even gender balance and a wide range of age groups and career types. Considering the fact that this is a smaller (but fast growing!) blog, I am very pleased with the demographics.
Moving on to some of the other big general questions, let’s see if people take career breaks and if employers offer unpaid leave at all.
Now we’re getting into some interesting results. A full 18% of respondents don’t know if their employers offer unpaid leave or not! This is a question you should be asking your boss or finding out from HR. The good news is that the majority of employers offer unpaid leave, but the 28% who don’t need to get their act together. If your employer doesn’t offer unpaid leave and you want to take a career break, unfortunately the solution is to quit. This is a loose/loose situation.
The next chart may be a bit misleading. I was amazed to find that 30% of respondents had taken a career break, I thought the number would be lower. There are two possible explanations.
The first is that while 30% of respondents have taken a career break, they may have been attracted to the survey in the first place because they had taken a break in the past and thus wanted to share their experiences.
The second consideration is that this survey was completed by people of all ages, so respondents could be taking career breaks at various stages of life. I didn’t think about when I created the survey, so this is a pleasant surprise! We need to delve into this statistic a little more and break it down by age.
Respondents that have taken a career break before – Age breakdown
Wow! I was really surprised to learn that the vast majority of respondents were taking career breaks in later years. I was under the impression that more people would take breaks in their younger years due to not the freedom of not having a family yet. I’ve got further stats on the barriers to taking career breaks that will be covered in a subsequent post.
Staying with the respondents who have taken a career break, here are two more graphs that show how much time they spent away from the workforce and how long it took them to save for the experience.
Again, responses were quite varied which goes to show you that career breaks are unique experiences that are different for everyone. Taking 1 -3 months off was by far the most popular option. This amount of time allows one to have a great career break experience while limiting the time out of the workforce.
The bottom line is, in order to take a career break, you need significant savings. 65% of respondents needed to save for at least 1 year and 35% of respondents saved for a whopping 2 years or more! In order to save for that long, these people will have had to make numerous sacrifices in order to raise the necessary funds.
Now the big question, what did everyone do while on their career break?
|What Did You Do On Your Break?||%|
|Spend more time with family (children, elderly parents, etc)||45%|
|Read for pleasure or to increase your knowledge||30%|
|Write a journal, book or diary||15%|
|Train for a sporting event such as a marathon or Ironman||10%|
|Work in a new type of job||10%|
|Study – Individual course(s)||10%|
|Learn a language||5%|
|Train in the arts (music, painting, sculpture, drawing, etc)||5%|
|Work in your area of expertise||5%|
|Study – Degree program (Bachelors, Masters, MBA, PhD)||5%|
|Learn a new sport (Tennis, golf, surfing, etc)||0%|
There was no surprise with the top response, travel, but the second one was a bit of a surprise for me. Considering that the majority of people on career breaks were age 35+, they would be more likely to have a family or elderly parents.
20% of respondents selected the “other” category which means my list wasn’t big enough. Some people learned new culinary skills, moved countries or started a business.
What I think is most interesting is that generally speaking people want to do many different things while on their career break. Some respondents selected 4, 5 even 6 different activities that they pursued while on their break. This indicates to me that we don’t give ourselves enough time to do the things we really enjoy in our day to day life. Working long hours, long commutes and TV are getting in the way of our personal growth.
The last table that I’ll leave you with shows how people rated their career break experience on a scale of 1 to 10.
How would you rate your career break experience?
Rating (1-10) %
As you can see, the vast majority of people felt that their career break was a positive experience with 95% of respondents rating it as a 5/10 or higher.
The real good news though is that 65% of people rated their career break experience an 8/10 or higher! These stats mean that career breaks aren’t just good, they are fantastic and those who take them get a lot out of the experience.
Summarizing the numbers
The message to take away from this post is that career breaks are different for everyone and are extremely valuable experiences. People take them at all stages of life from all kinds of different career backgrounds. Thought it may take a while to save for, taking a career break is worth the effort in the end!
I’ve gone through a lot of stats, tables and charts in this post which hopefully you’ve found insightful. In the weeks ahead I’ll examine the group of respondents that want to take a career break and the barriers they face.
For the readers
Are you starting to think differently about taking time off to do the things you love?
Does hearing about people who have taken career breaks make the idea less scary?
Leave a comment and let us know what you’re thinking!