We hate to break it to you, but unlike the Energizer Bunny, humans don’t run on full power 24/7 until the batteries die. American society has lived with the notion that working hard equals more raises, better work life, promotions, increased productivity and ultimately, less financial burden. However, studies are showing that frequent breaks throughout the day, compared to the lack of, actually increase productivity, reduce stress and fatigue on joints and muscles, and re-energize both body and mind. Here are some tips on how mini breaks can help your productivity, as a manager and as an employee.
Taking breaks has been shown to be associated with fewer physical symptoms — such as headaches, eyestrain and lower back pain. When we force ourselves to walk away from the keyboard, computer screen or paperwork, even briefly, it allows the body to get the blood pumping and to “awaken” from lack of movement. Research shows when the body is sedentary for too long, it begins to “shut down”; blood vessels don’t have to work as hard so the brain becomes “lazy.” It also creates aches and pains in the joints, taking our minds off the task at hand to focus on what ails us. Take at least four physical breaks a day and walk around the office building or go outside for some fresh air. Swing the arms and stretch the legs. Utilize stairs to help aide in getting the blood pumping through the legs. And take the first break within a couple of hours of starting the workday. Some physical therapists suggest taking the first “mini” break roughly three hours into the workday allows the brain to function at full capacity longer.
Offer office supplies that give staff mobility.
More offices are hitting the gym—by purchasing gym equipment or supplies for the office, such as standing units for keyboards, treadmills, bicycles (used as share bikes to ride outdoors between buildings or on paths) and exercise balls for employees to sit on. This type of solution to the “mini break” can be used in any office setting and has been found to increase productivity exponentially. Corporations across the U.S. are incorporating more wellness programs into day-to-day operations. This has led to an increase in employee well-being, lower turn-over rates, increased productivity and less sick days. Managers report that more employees utilize gym equipment or yoga classes offered at the office during lunch breaks or as their mini break. Studies also show that taking just ten minutes twice a day to walk briefly on a treadmill, ride a bike to another building or take time to do some stretching activities increases brainpower and boosts mood.
There is science behind taking breaks.
A Harvard Business Review article explains that the brain has two modes: a focus mode, which we access when learning something new, and a relaxed mode or “daydreamer” mode, utilized when we don’t need to think about complex issues or problem solve anything of urgency. While many perceive the focus mode is what helps us complete our tasks and optimize our workday, studies have shown that activity in many brain regions increases when the mind wanders and is more relaxed.
While breaks may be encouraged by many, studies show that employees and managers feel guilty taking too many breaks and therefore don’t take any breaks other than lunch. However, when managers and leadership teams offer tools and equipment or options for taking breaks, it is seen as supported throughout the corporation. Without downtime to refresh and re-energize, employees and leaders are less efficient, make more mistakes, and become less engaged with objectives of the company.
PrideStaff Financial is a 5-star diamond award recruiting firm. Our staffing consultants understand the importance of workplace wellness and its many benefits. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.