Here’s news that benefits both workers and managers: If you want to maximize workday breaks to boost concentration, energy and motivation, here’s new thinking on the subject.
Apparently, there are break-time myths according to research.
Employees commonly take breaks such as coffee breaks, visit with coworkers or take walks around the block.
If that’s you, too, a pair of Baylor University management professors provides information that you might want to consider.
They say it will make you happier and more productive. That ought to please bosses, too.
The study entitled, “Give Me a Better Break: Choosing Workday Activities to Maximize Resource Recovery,” was conducted by Emily Hunter, Ph.D. and Cindy Wu, Ph.D.
It was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Aug. 10, 2015.
Why the study?
The professors indicate that little research into employee breaks have been conducted – not to mention when, where or how to take breaks.
Professors Hunter and Wu studied the break-time habits and well-being results for 95 workers ranging in age from 22 to 67 over a five-day period. But their study, of course, didn’t include bathroom breaks.
“Multilevel analysis results indicated that activities that were preferred and earlier in the work shift related to more resource recovery following the break,” write the authors.
The professors analyzed a total 959 break surveys with an average of two breaks per worker each day.
“We also found that resources mediated the influence of preferred break activities and time of break on health symptoms and that resource recovery benefited person-level outcomes of emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior,” they add.
“Finally, break length interacted with the number of breaks per day such that longer breaks and frequent short breaks were associated with more resources than infrequent short breaks,” they write.
1. The most beneficial time to take a workday break is mid-morning.
“We found that when more hours had elapsed since the beginning of the work shift, fewer resources and more symptoms of poor health were reported after a break,” they write. “Therefore, breaks later in the day seemed to be less effective.”
2. So-called better breaks incorporate activities preferred by workers.
Sometimes, employees prefer to take breaks with work-related tasks.
“Finding something on your break that you prefer to do – something that’s not given to you or assigned to you – are the kinds of activities that are going to make your breaks much more restful, provide better recovery and help you come back to work stronger,” asserts Professor Hunter.
3. People who take better breaks experience better health and job satisfaction.
The study shows such workers suffer less headaches, eyestrain and lower back pain.
4. Longer breaks are good, but frequent short breaks are beneficial.
“Unlike your cellphone, which popular wisdom tells us should be depleted to zero percent before you fully charge it to 100 percent, people instead need to charge more frequently throughout the day,” writes Professor Hunter.
Unless you subscribe to the Journal of Applied Psychology, it will cost you $11.95 to read the study.
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