"The past year has been hard on everyone and has shone a spotlight on the pressures faced by our people. Hearing from our teams through check-ins and surveys, we know that many have refocused what their priorities are and where they want to devote their time. SAP's new Life Leave policy is our way of showing our teams that we understand the need to plan work around life, not the other way round," said SAP ANZ head of human resources Debbie Rigger.
"Ultimately, we want to be able to support our employees to ensure they are happy, healthy and engaged. For some, that means taking a week off to turn a hobby into a side project, for others that could mean working a few shorter weeks to simply get more time to rest and recharge. Whatever they choose, we are here to support them."
The whole point of the life leave policy is that it allows staff to use their leave as they need it, rather than limiting it to particular circumstances.
Some of the ways SAP anticipates it being used include marriage, having a baby, bereavement, divorce, baby bonding, birthday, anniversary, supporting family members (or pets), sporting events, moving house, or the good old 'mental health' day.
On that latter point, SAP has announced is designating 27 April 2021 as the the company's global Mental Health Day. All SAP employees will get the day off on full pay. This follows a recent survey that found 30% of employees globally are struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
"SAP's Global Mental Health Day aims to remove the stigma that is often associated with mental health and encourages employees to take time to rest, reflect and recharge," according to the company.
But back to life leave. SAP ANZ senior marketing manager for industries Jamie Fitzcarlos recently used hers to raise awareness for The Stroke Foundation by participating in the 4x4x48 Challenge, an endurance event that sees participants run 4 miles (6.44km) every 4 hours for 48 hours.
"As a stroke survivor, it's extremely important to me that I'm able to give back and help raise awareness and support for the Stroke Foundation. I am grateful to have these five additional days to dedicate to train and participate in a number of different endurance and marathon events," she said.
SAP ANZ customer engagement executive Kikelomo Abegunde used her life leave to start The Kikelomo Show, a podcast that describes her career journey and personal life as a Nigerian-American living in Australia.
"The biggest lesson 2020 taught me is the importance of having something to look forward to. Formerly, it was holidays, but now it's developing my podcast and sharing my voice with the world", said Abegunde. "I'm so incredibly grateful to work for an organisation that empowers me with time to pursue my life's purpose. How fantastic is that?"
SAP ANZ president and managing director Damien Bueno said "If 2020 taught us anything, it was the importance of being present for life's meaningful moments.
"These initiatives demonstrate our commitment to our employees to help them focus on their wellbeing and take the time to celebrate the moments that matter to them. This means we have happier, healthier and more engaged employees, which directly leads to better outcomes for our customers and our business."