Emily Hunter and Cindy Wu, associate professors of management at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, surveyed 95 employees (ages 22-67) over a five-day workweek. Each person documented every break taken during that time. The results of the study led to these key findings.
1. The best time to take a workday break is midmorning.
Rather than the typical culture of working hard all morning only to take a lunch hour or midafternoon break, an earlier respite replenishes more resources: energy, concentration and motivation.
2. “Better breaks” incorporate activities that employees prefer.
The best break activities consist of things you choose and like to do rather than doing something that’s assigned. Spending breaks this way delivers more rest so you return to your work more recovered.
3. Longer breaks are beneficial, but frequent shorter breaks are even better.
Research found that more short breaks were associated with higher resources, suggesting that employees should be encouraged to take brief breaks more often.
“Better breaks” can lead to better health and increased job satisfaction.
The employee surveys showed that recovery of energy, concentration and motivation after a “better break” (earlier in the day, doing preferred activities) led workers to experience fewer physical ills such as headaches, eyestrain and lower back pain. These employees also experienced increased job satisfaction and organizational citizenship behavior as well as a decrease in emotional exhaustion (burnout).
This article appears in the January 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.