Many consumers struggle with taking time away from their desks during the workday; however, findings from a new study conducted by researchers from North Carolina State University may encourage more employees to maximize their break time.
The researchers found that when consumers feel tired during a day at work, taking a brief break from their responsibilities can actually be the best thing for their productivity and job performance.
“A micro-break is, by definition, short,” said researcher Sophia Cho. “But a five-minute break can be golden if you take it at the right time. Our study shows that it is in a company’s best interest to give employees autonomy in terms of taking microbreaks when they are needed -- it helps employees effectively manage their energy and engage in their work throughout the day.”
The benefits of taking microbreaks
The researchers conducted two concurrent surveys to determine what effect taking frequent short breaks had on consumers’ workplace productivity and energy levels. One study surveyed more than 200 workers in South Korea, and another surveyed nearly 100 U.S. workers. Participants completed surveys several times per day and answered questions about their typical workplace behavior, how often they take breaks, and how their energy levels varied throughout the workday.
The researchers learned that microbreaks were an essential part of maintaining employees’ overall wellness and energy levels. Their study showed that the participants were more likely to preserve their energy and complete their tasks more efficiently when they took frequent short breaks throughout the day.
Taking more breaks was even more beneficial when employees reported feeling tired at the start of the workday. Taking microbreaks boosted their performance at work and helped them feel less tired as the day progressed.
“Basically, microbreaks help you manage your energy resources over the course of the day -- and that’s particularly beneficial on days when you’re tired,” said Cho.
Ultimately, the researchers hope that more employers prioritize their employees’ mental health and wellness. When taking microbreaks is encouraged within the company, employees are more likely to utilize that time and give a better work performance.
“When people think their employer cares about their health, they feel more empowered to freely make decisions about when to take microbreaks and what type of microbreaks to take,” Cho said. “And that is ultimately good for both the employer and the employee.”