How “Intermissions” could launch brilliant second halves of event careers
When you have reached the heights of the hospitality ladder like MGM Resorts International Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer Stephanie Glanzer, where do you go? Thanks to MGM Resorts’ sabbatical program called The Intermission, this longtime leader in Las Vegas was able to recapture the excitement of going to work by taking some time to reconnect with family—and herself.
The Science Behind the Break
The program, which rolled out in 2022 following an intense couple of years navigating the pandemic, is part of a cultural journey at MGM Resorts to provide employees with the one thing that can never be replaced—time. Leaders are given the option to take up to six weeks of sabbatical based on the number of years with the company to focus on what matters to them and rejoin the company feeling renewed and rejuvenated.
The program has two primary objectives. It provides employees with the opportunity to truly detach from work and connect and focus on whatever they desire–whether that’s travel, educational pursuits, philanthropy or simply just relaxing and resting. It also provides development opportunities to other employees by allowing them to take on new responsibilities and expanded scopes of work in the absence of colleagues and leaders.
After two years of the practice that dates back to early agricultural times when the land was given a break every seven years to keep it fertile and popular for humans in academia, MGM reported that it reduced stress and burn-out, sparked creativity, added to the general skill level of teams and helped the company attract and retain talent.
The exercise helps to strengthen and test succession and development plans by giving interim leaders the chance to work in the role and train others in new tasks.
The initiative ladders back to MGM Resorts’ Focus on What Matters credo that includes the environment, guests, communities and the people who make it all happen–employees. “We understand employees have passions and goals outside of work. This program allows longtime employees the opportunity to step away from the day-to-day demands of work and foster those interests, whatever they may be,” was the explanation in a statement from MGM Resorts.
Sabbatical Lessons for Meeting Profs
Glanzer, who has been with MGM Resorts for 25 years, took the time to disconnect, spend time with her family and travel. “I soon realized how much I needed to just sit in a lounge chair in Italy overlooking the ocean, reading, sleeping and spending quality time with my family, including my 10-year-old when I am not on my phone constantly,” she said. “I came back a better leader, a better mom, a better friend, a better employee because I was re-energized.”
That is an insight busy meeting professionals can embrace. Sometimes, you don’t know how much you need to step away until you try it. The trick is to take the structured time before an emergency forces the break.
Read More: Essential Checklist: Relax and Recharge
The process of disengaging was not an immediate one. “When I left the first day, I looked at my phone and I was about to press ‘reply to all’ on an email to my direct reports before stopping myself,” Glanzer shared. “I thought, if I do this now, it’s going to show them that I’m going to be looking at my email, and I’m not trusting them.” From that moment, other than a weekly check-in with her assistant, she did not look at email and they never sent her anything. “You have to use it for what it is for—disconnecting—or you won’t see the benefits,” she explained.
“It was life-changing for me,” Glanzer reported. “I reflected on what matters and I was really intentional.”
In addition to bringing new perspective when she returned, Glanzer found that because she created a clear plan about what items would go to what teams, she had fewer emails once she returned because her team had been empowered to handle things. “It was like starting fresh,” she said.
It also benefitted the team members left behind who now have that valuable experience if they apply for another role and can show the level they operated at. They are now connected to leadership and in the communications loop in a new way. Everyone had a chance to grow.
The aha moments went beyond the benefits of six weeks away. It included adjusting daily standard operating procedures to be more sustainable for everyone.
“It made me realize that what we do as an industry, the expectations that seven days a week we are expected to look at email first thing in the morning and late at night isn’t good for us.” Glanzer made it clear she is not suggesting that everyone delay response times, but not all emails are urgent.