As the world adapts to different ways of working, extra demands on shift workers in key industries and even less predictability in hours on or at work, is the break becoming a thing of the past?
It’s becoming increasingly common for employees to shorten or skip their break, or even to eat at their desk or station to avoid the break altogether so they can squeeze in some extra productivity during the day. In fact, Forbes reports that around 40% of US workers do not feel comfortable taking a break at work.
While it might be tempting to let your staff keep working diligently or not change the shift structure to include regular breaks, in the long run this habit could be hurting your team’s well-being and consequently their productivity. Here are a few of the many benefits of taking a break and why you should encourage your people to take them.
Do Less to Accomplish More
While it may seem counterintuitive at first, taking time away from work during the day can have huge impacts on productivity. Regular breaks give workers time to rest and recharge, especially those in customer-facing roles in your business. Encourage your employees to get a change of scenery by taking their break in a location that’s not their desk. After a break, they’ll return to work with more energy and motivation.
Better Customer Service
A report from Time Magazine highlights the business benefits for you and your customers too. A survey demonstrated that, among call centre workers who took regular breaks, general enthusiasm in their work increased and this had a measurable impact on sales figures, increasing the business’ bottom line.
Breaks Improve Concentration and Focus
Another benefit of breaks is that they offer an opportunity for a mental reset. Working all day without stopping causes you to get physically and mentally fatigued, which results in a decrease in attention span. Simply taking a break lets the mind recalibrate itself, enabling the employee to be more intentional and decisive when you return to work.
Better Physical Health
Give your employees time for a break to provide them with an opportunity to get up, stretch, and move around, which is extremely important in an office, store, restaurant, call centre – and even work from home – environment.
Breaks can also lead to better nutrition choices, since employees who don’t take a full meal may be inclined to run to the vending machine for a junk food snack when they inevitably get hungry during the day.
Employees Who Take Breaks are Happier
Employees who consistently skip breaks can easily burnout. The well-being of your employees can especially suffer if they don’t feel like they have the option to take or enjoy a break during the day.
By including breaks in their daily routine, workers can take time for activities that help them reduce stress – like a short walk outside, a phone call with a friend, or even catching up on social media. As we know, increased job satisfaction also pays dividends when it comes to workplace productivity, team morale, and job retention.
Additional Benefits with Longer Breaks
Longer lunch breaks give employees opportunities to take care of non-work tasks – like scheduling doctor’s appointments, running errands, or exercise. Beyond better work-life balance, longer breaks also give coworkers opportunities to get to know each other outside of a strict work context, which can improve communication, collaboration, and teamwork.
So if breaks are so awesome, why don’t more workers take them consistently or why do they rush through their breaks? This could be due to:
- Stress cultures where employees worry that their managers and coworkers will think less of them for taking a break
- Having more work than they can manage
- Inconvenient systems for reporting break times
- Not knowing the benefits of taking a break
It’s important to set a good example for your employees – make sure people see you taking lunch breaks yourself, and encourage them to do the same.
One option for removing the barrier of reporting break times is to use a staff management tool.
Management apps like Planday have dozens of features to optimise workplace efficiency – such as the employee punch clock app. Employees can effortlessly track and report their time on and off-the-clock, and even communicate when they’ll be returning. It’s also a great way for managers to see which employees are taking lunch breaks and who needs some encouragement!
As you can see, the benefits of taking a break far outweigh the minutes of time spent not working. Lunch breaks help employees work smarter and more efficiently and makes them better contributors to your company’s mission. Don’t overlook this basic strategy to improve employee satisfaction, which ultimately benefits your business.