It’s proven that enforcing regular employee breaks such as walks, coffee runs, lunch, and vacations will bring huge productivity rewards to your business.
When it comes to maximizing your team’s productivity and creativity, very few methods are as effective as implementing a healthy schedule of breaks throughout the day for your employees.
Although the idea of incorporating more downtime might seem counterproductive for a company, there has been growing evidence that shows more breaks for employees lead to less stress and exhaustion in the workplace, maximizing overall productivity. In fact, studies have shown that the highest-performing workers are ones that incorporate 17-minute breaks after every 52-minutes of work.
But how can employers balance their employees’ workloads with the need to incorporate breaks throughout the day? Below we will address eight different ways to promote additional breaks for your employees and how changes to the office environment, improvements in your company culture, and increased flexibility can help maximize their productivity over time.
Change the Office Environment
1. Amp up your break room
Improving the quality of your break room gives employees the feeling that they are a valuable asset to the company and their overall happiness is essential. By providing a modest assortment of refreshments, snack options, and kitchen appliances, you’ll make sure your employees feel like a critical part of the team.
2. Create a cafe-like office
An environment that is both relaxing and inviting will allow employees to recharge their creative batteries much faster, giving them the much-needed motivation to stay on task. Light music and gentle lighting will help keep a calm workplace environment that your employees look forward to going to.
3. Attend offsite team building exercises
Team building events outside of the office can be a significant investment in collaboration and overall employee morale. The benefits of employee engagement are seen in more than just good team morale, however. Companies that regularly invest in team building exercises can typically earn over two times the amount of income than competitors who don’t usually engage with their employees. Whether you’re organizing a bowling night, company dinner, or escape room challenge, getting to know one another outside of the office can help employees unwind while opening the doors to creative inspiration.
Make It Part of the Company Culture
4. Create an active workplace
An active company is a healthy company. By supporting and endorsing active lifestyles with your staff, you can help define a corporate culture that benefits from healthier and happier employees. By providing local gym memberships to all employees or encouraging stand-up meetings, you can help employees live a better life in and out of the office.
5. Give incentives for taking breaks
To some people, taking a regular break from work may feel like it goes against the grain. In these cases, it may be beneficial to offer an incentive to employees for taking regularly scheduled breaks. A popular way of doing this is by setting up contests and challenges throughout the week that require employees to step away from their desks to participate in. Scavenger hunts around the office, and taking fun staff surveys are great ways for employees to unwind while allowing them the ability to win gift cards and prizes for getting involved. Creating a “break challenge” is another way you can reward employees for logging down their break hours during the week and rewarding employees who reach a targeted number of break hours.
6. Close shop for a week
Sometimes smaller breaks aren’t enough to give employees the time they need to improve their motivation. After a busy season and during slower times of the year, it may be appropriate to shut down shop for a week and give everyone time for themselves and their families. Many companies find it beneficial to create mandatory vacation periods throughout the year. This can be accomplished by creating extended days off during statutory holidays, or scheduling a random week off for all employees. This unorthodox enforcement of time off can be incredibly useful in boosting team morale. In 2017, it was reported that 52% of employees still have unused vacation time at the end of the year. It may be useful to limit the amount of vacation days that can be banked before an employee needs to take them off. This will help your company instill the importance to employees of stepping away from their work life.
Give Employees More Flexibility
7. Provide tools for remote workers
Creating scheduling flexibility for employees in and out of the workplace provides them with a balanced approach to managing their workloads.
- Touchdown spaces are temporary and on-demand workstations that cater to telecommuters and mobile employees. Having this provision enables team members to always have a dedicated workspace regardless of their schedules, significantly increasing productivity.
- Mobile connectivity is a valuable part of any business. In fact, productivity has been proven to increase by 20-25% in companies that invest in connected workers. Road warriors and roaming salespeople need to have convenient and efficient ways of managing their workload on the road, and these tools enable them to do so effectively.
8. Clear the plate for one month
There is a growing trend with larger corporations that mandates one month a year be designated towards personal employee pursuits only. By allowing employees to engage their passion wherever they see fit for this period, companies have seen a surge in creative thinking, fresh perspective, and leadership qualities.
Encouraging regular breaks from everyday office responsibilities is critical to increasing your employees’ productivity. By creating an inviting working environment and taking the time to connect team members outside of the office, you’ll maximize the quality of your employee output as they continue to enjoy their jobs and feel like an essential part of the team.