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5 Ways To Encourage Breaks At Work

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

In today's fast-paced work environment, encouraging team members to take regular breaks throughout the day is crucial for maintaining productivity, well-being, and overall job satisfaction. So how can you encourage breaks at work?

I'm a huge advocate for taking the time to rest our minds and bodies.

I've noticed in many of my conversations at workplaces lately that the idea of REST makes a lot of people very uncomfortable. Our culture tells us that productivity = constant busyness = success. therefore,

taking breaks or resting = unproductive and wasteful.

Yet, science is very clearly backing up the importance of taking breaks for our mental and physical health.

How breaks and rest help during the work day

Breaks help us by:

  1. Improving cognitive (mental) performance.

  2. Reducing stress and anxiety.

  3. Enhancing problem-solving skills.

  4. Improving our physical wellbeing (think: stretching or movement breaks).

  5. Improving mood and job satisfaction.

  6. Reducing risk of burnout.

We know all these wonderful, beneficial, scientifically-backed facts about breaks and rest AND YET most of us still really struggle with breaks at work on a daily basis!

If you are a leader or manager, or involved in wellness at your workplace, here are five evidence-based strategies that can be implemented with your team.

5 Ways to encourage breaks at work

1. Promote Social Breaks: Encourage team members to take breaks together and be social. This can work for both in person and remote work teams. Socializing can have positive impact on psychological wellbeing, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced burnout.

Keep in mind that there should not be pressure to socialize. People should feel included and welcomed, whatever their version of socializing is.

2. Provide Dedicated Break Areas: Establishing designated spaces for breaks, away from workstations, can encourage employees to step away and recharge. These spaces could be indoors and/or outdoors. It can be hard to take a break if you feel that you don't have a place to relax.

For employees who work remotely, share and brainstorm ideas for stepping away from their work station at home.

3. Offer Flexibility: Allowing employees to choose when to take breaks can improve their sense of autonomy and engagement. A study by Fisher et al. (2016) showed that employees who had more control over their break times experienced reduced fatigue and better overall well-being. This may not be possible in all work environments, but where possible, don't "force" the break at a specific time.

4. Highlight Health Benefits: Educate your team about the positive impact of breaks on their health. Communicate these health benefits regularly in meetings, in internal newsletters and through leading by example.

5. Lead by Example: Managers and leaders should prioritize taking breaks themselves, setting a positive example for the team. This is something that I talk about all the time. leaders need to take the lead and actively practice and encourage breaks to create a culture where breaks were valued and normalized.

Easier said than done? Start practicing today and make sure you are modelling what you expect from others.

Which strategy stands out to you the most?

Start with one so that you can work towards fostering a culture that values and encourages regular breaks.

Promoting well-being through breaks not only enhances productivity but also contributes to a healthier and happier workforce and can help to prevent burnout in your workplace.


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Hi, I'm Alison and welcome to the blog.

I have been a speaker and trainer for 17 years. I offer Mental Health First Aid in Canada and work with workplaces to improve mental wellbeing and psychological safety and reduce stress and burnout.

Be sure to connect with me on IG @alisonbutlernl or on LinkedIn.

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