Give Your Employees a Break and Watch Productivity Climb

A recent study by Staples examined the break habits of over 200 employees in the US and Canada. The study revealed that a sense of guilt is the primary reason employees do not take breaks. Although over 80 percent of employees believe that a break would make them more productive, only 14 percent reported using a breakroom for brief periods of respite.

The study revealed that over 60 percent of workers spend more than eight hours in the workplace, and excessive stress continues to be a major concern. Over 40 percent of employees are exhausted from long workdays, but a majority consider that regular breaks would improve personal wellbeing. Here are some ways to encourage employees to take more breaks.

  • Over 50 percent of survey respondents want snacks, but an overwhelming majority would prefer healthy snacks such as nuts or fruit as opposed to chips and candy. The study showed that 30 percent of employees work at companies who do not provide coffee, but over 40 percent of employees take over 40 minutes to leave the office for coffee. Provide healthy snacks and beverages in an allocated room where staff can unwind and interact with colleagues.
  • Fifty percent of respondents reported that they do not have an allocated break room with comfortable furniture. Providing staff with an opportunity to socialize with colleagues in a comfortable environment can improve relationships and reduce stress.
  • Professor Trougakos, an Associate Professor of Management at the University of Toronto, told Phyllis Korkki of the New York Times that, to unwind, staff must detach from work and technology. Enforce a no technology rule in the break rooms so that staff are not able to answer the phone, text, or check email in the break room.

Remove the guilt factor and make breaks part of company culture and institute a policy of a 15-minute break twice a day. A break from work can re-invigorate the tired worker and provide motivation. No breaks compound the effects of stress. Other options include allowing staff the opportunity to exercise during the day or providing gym memberships. Work-life balance options can also relieve stress for employees and provide them with some control over their hours at work.

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