A study recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that breaks can offer significant benefits to both employers and employees.
The study, Give Me a Better Break: Choosing Workday Break Activities to Maximize Resource Recovery was conducted by two Baylor University researchers Recovery. It provided a better understanding of workday breaks and provided suggestions on when, where and how to plan work breaks. The study also debunked some common break-time myths.
The researchers, Emily Hunter, Ph.D., and Cindy Wu, Ph.D., associate professors of management in Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, surveyed 95 workers aged 22 to 67 over a five-day workweek. Each respondent was asked to document each break they took during that time. In the study, breaks were defined as “any period of time, formal or informal, during the workday in which work-relevant tasks are not required or expected, including but not limited to a break for lunch, coffee, personal email or socializing with coworkers, not including bathroom breaks.”
The researchers examined a total of 959 break surveys (average of 2 breaks per employee per day).
The researchers believe the results of this study will greatly benefit both employers and employee.
“We took some of our layperson hypotheses about what we believed were helpful in a break and tested those empirically in the best way possible,” said Ms Hunter. “This is a strong study design with strong analyses to test those hypotheses. What we found was that a better workday break was not composed of many of the things we believed.”
One of the key findings of the study include the best time to take a break, which is mid-morning.
“We found that when more hours had elapsed since the beginning of the work shift, fewer resources and more symptoms of poor health were reported after a break,” the study revealed. “Therefore, break later in the day seem to be less effective.
The researchers also found no evidence to prove that non-work related activities during work breaks are more beneficial.
“Finding something on your break that you prefer to do – something that’s not given to you or assigned to you – are the kinds of activities that are going to make your break much more restful, provide better recovery and help you come back to work stronger,” said Ms Hunter.
The study also found that people who enjoy “better break” had better health condition and increased job satisfaction. The researchers also say that while longer breaks are good, taking frequent short breaks is beneficial.