Many states require that employees are allowed breaks for rest and/or meal periods (see our previous blog post here for information on your state’s requirements, if any). But even for employers in states with no requirements, there are many reasons you should encourage your employees to take regular breaks.
While taking breaks may seem counterproductive when you want your employees to be as productive as possible during their work time, there are actually several benefits, both for the employee and the employer, when employees take breaks.
Employees who step away from their work on a regular basis come back “recharged,” with a “fresh brain,” and increased creativity. These employees are more likely to have higher job satisfaction and are more likely to go above and beyond their regular job responsibilities for the company. In addition, employees who take breaks are less likely to suffer from burn out and have a lower stress level.
Knowing these benefits, you may wonder why on average only 1 in 3 workers in the US step away from their work regularly for meal or rest breaks. A survey done by Tork found that many employees were afraid they would be looked down upon for taking regular breaks by both their supervisors and their colleagues.
So how do you change this mentality and encourage your employees to take regular breaks from their work?
For starters, you need to lead by example. Management and supervisors should be consistently taking meal breaks away from their work. If employees see that their supervisors are taking time away from their work, they are more likely to begin to do so themselves. This is the first step in changing the “breaks are for slackers” mentality.
Second, communicate to your employees the benefits of taking breaks. Let them know that you encourage them to take regular breaks – and then stick to your word. Make sure employees don’t feel pressured to skip their lunch breaks to complete their work and don’t discipline employees for taking regular breaks.
Finally, create a space designed for employees to take breaks. Whether it be a kitchen area with a table and chairs or a couch and recliner, create a comfortable place for employees to get away from their work during break periods.