Sabbaticals, which traditionally have been looked upon as ways for employees to explore personal interests or re-energize themselves without losing their jobs, could now be a way to prevent layoffs. "We have seen a significant increase in the number of employers looking at these kinds of programs as a way to attract, engage and retain talent," says Hewitt Associate executive Carol Sladek. "Employers realize that one of the key work/life needs we all have is time."

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