What if we told you that one of the best ways to boost the productivity of your workforce is to ask them to take more breaks? For many business owners, human resource professionals, and others in positions of leadership, the idea of office break time is often seen as an impediment to increased productivity.
Keeping workers in the office and on task, however, might actually be driving DOWN your overall productivity while also contributing to long-term health problems for your workforce. Recent scientific studies are discovering that more frequent break times can actually keep your workers more mentally alert and engaged in their tasks. More frequent breaks can also play an important role in reducing the risk of musculoskeletal disorders in your workforce.
This short article explains the benefits that come with introducing micro breaks in the workplace.
What Are Microbreaks?
Microbreaks are defined as short, voluntary, and impromptu breaks or respites during a work day. The idea of a microbreak is to allow workers to both temporarily refocus their attention on something different, and change body positions. This clears the mental fog that can often come after hours spent working on the same task and reduces physical stress and fatigue.
For some workers, a microbreak can allow them to briefly relax in some sort of optional activity such as:
- Having a short snack
- Engaging in a non-work-related conversation with a colleague
- Doing some short stretches or other in-office exercise
- Working on a crossword puzzle
- Walking up and down the stairs
- Taking a short walk through a garden or other green / fresh-air area
- Having a short, five minute mindfulness meditation
A microbreak, by definition, is short, and should generally last between 5 and 7 minutes. This will give your employees enough time to function as an effective energy management strategy.
Benefits of Microbreaks
Microbreaks offer two main benefits to your workforce: improving focus and productivity, and reducing the risk of MSDs and other workplace-related injuries.
Studies have demonstrated that encouraging your employees to take regular microbreaks can improve their ability to concentrate while also reducing workplace stress. In one recent workplace study, workers who took frequent microbreaks claimed to have higher work engagement during the day and lower end-of-work fatigue.
In terms of protecting employee health, microbreaks can also play an important role. For example, for workers who spend long hours sitting in front of a computer screen, micro breaks can play an important role in resting your eyes, thus protecting vision and eyesight. Getting up from the desk for some physical activity or stretching is important in reducing postural and positional stress that can lead to headaches, low back pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.
According to a recent article published by Stanford Environmental Health and Safety:
“...while seated, muscles are activated to help support proper posture. Over time these muscles
can fatigue and injuries may slowly develop. Pay attention to signs of fatigue and discomfort while
working. This can help indicate that your body needs a break. Muscles may fatigue when sitting
or standing for extended periods of time (i.e. greater than an hour). Inappropriate postures and
compression can impede the flow of blood, impinge nerves, and injure soft tissue. Rest is
essential to ensuring a healthy musculoskeletal system. Taking frequent breaks will help to lower
the risk of ergonomic injury.”
Bring Microbreaks To Work With Work-Fit
If you feel that microbreaks might help your workforce, but aren’t sure how exactly to best implement this innovative worker wellness strategy, you might consider hiring a third-party independent contractor. Work-Fit is one leading company that offers comprehensive injury prevention, management, and employee wellness for your workforce.
We are the nationwide leader in applying sports medicine techniques in the workplace to prevent injuries and increase your company's bottom line. Our team of professionals can help your company design and implement the most effective strategies for improving employee wellness and safeguarding the health and safety of your employees.
Our wellness management program is a great resource to help your business generate savings on worker’s compensation while also helping to boost the overall productivity of your employees. If you are interested in learning how a strategy of micro breaks can improve your company culture, contact us today to learn about how we can help your team!
You can start your journey to better employee wellness by implementing this Office Microbreak today!