Taking breaks at work? New study shows they boost your productivity
If your workload is piling up, you may opt to tackle it all without taking any breaks, in order to manage it quicker.
But a new study from the University of Waterloo suggests that heavy workloads that discourage employees from taking breaks could disrupt general performance, causing high levels of stress and fatigue that stand in the way of productivity.
“Our research provides a comprehensive account of the processes involved in the decision to take a break and provides insights into how employees and managers can make more effective use of breaks at work, potentially improving both well-being and performance,” James Beck, professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Waterloo, said in a press release.
Researchers surveyed 10 employees about their rationales for taking breaks or not taking them during workdays. They also questioned 287 workers twice daily over five days about performance concerns tied to sleep, fatigue, and the general workload that might be preventing them from taking more breaks.
Despite the fact that prior research has shown breaks benefit employee performance and general well-being, a large factor comes down to supervision. When workers feel like supervisors “discourage breaks in their workplace” they become less likely to take them.
Vincent Phan, one of the study’s authors, acknowledges certain work limitations can prevent employees from taking breaks that could benefit their well being and general performance, but said “if employers can promote employee well-being by addressing the conditions that can make work unpleasant, they may be able to reduce the number of breaks needed.”
With the varying demands of different work environments, the researchers with the University of Waterloo hope their findings will help promote employee well-being and change the demanding hustle that leads to burnout, fatigue, and dissatisfaction at work.
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