Posted on / Updated on / in Blog & Employee Morale & Employee Relations /

Take a break.

How often are these words spoken in your office? Do your employees feel like they can –and should- take regular breaks? (And we mean beyond those required by law.)

If not, we suggest looking into your break culture. Most employers view taking breaks as a sign of laziness or a cause of low productivity. But, despite their bad rap, taking breaks can actually boost productivity. (And, hey, even micro-breaks do the trick. We’re talking just 30 seconds to 5 minutes!)

Are you thinking we’re crazy yet?

Check out this infographic made by Onlinebusinessdegree.org to learn more about how employee breaks (even very short ones!) can increase productivity, improve mental acuity, and even relieve pain. Then, continue reading to find out how you can make your workplace break friendly.

Take a Break!

So, now that we’ve convinced you about the merit of taking breaks (we’re gonna go ahead and assume the infographic did that for you), let’s discuss what you can do to encourage taking breaks for productivity.

The majority of employees cite feeling guilty as the reason they don’t take many breaks. So, the best thing you can do is simply encourage employee breaks.

Offering healthy snacks and having a break room or other place with comfortable furniture for employees is the best way to do so. Additionally, if you see an employee taking a break, be sure to encourage the behavior, rather than make them feel like you are disappointed.

And, you know, lead by example whenever possible. We know: you’re really busy. But taking breaks is a good thing, remember?

Here are 5 quick break ideas you can give to your team members (or use yourself!):

Talk to a friend.

Walk across the office and chat with a co-worker for a few minutes. Ask them about their weekend or their pet, anything to take your mind off of your work for the time being. (Just make sure your co-worker isn’t in the middle of working on something!) If you can’t do that, step out into the sunshine (yes, that does still exist) and call up your friend for a quick chat.

Do something physical.

Physical activity provides a nice relief from computer or written work. Step outside and get some fresh air. Nature is an excellent brain booster. Take a walk around your office building (even invite a co-worker if you feel inclined). If walking isn’t an option for you, simply do some stretches at your desk. Put your arms above your head and really get your blood flowing.

Eat a healthy snack.

Eating a snack not only provides you with a break from your work, it also physically gives your body more energy. Aim for carbs and protein, and ignore sugar. Dark chocolate is actually an excellent choice; the delicious treat provides caffeine and has antioxidants that slow down cognitive decline. (Any excuse to eat chocolate is A-OK with us.)

Do nothing.

Ahh, the great antithesis of productivity. This is actually why this break works so well. Take about 5 minutes to just sit back, close your eyes and day dream. Doing so has been proven to give our brains a nice pick-me-up (think of how many good ideas you get while in the shower or driving your car). Plus, it’s almost as good as nap. Almost.

Doodle.

A nice creativity break can be a good refresher for a brain that’s been working for a long period of time. Get out a pen and paper and draw whatever strikes your fancy. Do some random doodles and let the thoughts of what you are working on be forgotten for a few minutes.

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about the author: Amy Letke

Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success.

currently there's 2 comment(s) Would you like to add your thoughts?

  • Cody Wheeler

    commented on April 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    This is a great post guys. Check out http://calm.com for an awesome way to spend your micro breaks. There’s also an iOS app. I use this religiously!

    Hope all is well. Keep up the great work.

  • […] The key here is to seek a bit of social interaction. Encourage your employees to take breaks and provide them with an area in the office to chill out and talk to one another. Taking breaks is important to both mood and concentration. Helping your employees relax and connect with each other during the day is a great way to help them stay motivated and productive.  Everyone needs a break from the daily grind. Encouraging your employees to take breaks can increase productivity, improve mental acuity and even relieve pain. […]