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Last year, Intel Corp. created an online tool that advertises developmental opportunities made available when employees take sabbaticals. The Development Opportunity Tool allows managers to advertise positions temporarily vacated by employees on sabbaticals. Employees seeking stretch assignments can post their profiles and describe the types of growth opportunities they are seeking.
“It’s sort of like Match.com,” jokes Paula Sanderson, global benefits manager for Intel. Before the tool was introduced, people just used word-of-mouth to find good candidates for growth opportunities, she says.
The tool “gives some transparency into the availability of opportunities,” says Tami Graham, director of global benefits design. “It still requires a certain amount of ‘touch’ to make those relationships occur—they don’t just happen on their own—but it helps people see what’s out there.” Graham says the tool is especially important if employees seek growth opportunities in business groups other than their own.
The tool reaches across geographic boundaries, too. “You could be in China and see an opportunity to cover someone’s sabbatical in the U.S. If you’re interested, you apply online and then have a mini-interview with the hiring manager. Then they hire you for that period of time,” Sanderson explains.
She adds, “I’ve covered several people’s sabbaticals. I managed a finance position one time and a position in our training department. … It’s development experience that you can add to your resume. And it creates a new challenge.” Sanderson says that when she covered payroll last year, it gave her “a new appreciation for that side of the benefits world.”
The author is a freelance writer and former HR generalist and trainer inWixom, Mich.
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