Short breaks at work improve employees’ well-being

September 21, 2022
Microbreaks of 10 minutes or less to eat a snack, go for a walk or scroll through social media can increase vigour while decreasing fatigue.

This was according to a meta-analysis published recently in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers examined 22 studies from the past 30 years, and found that short breaks improved workers’ well-being, which they defined as having energy to complete tasks without being exhausted by the end of the workday, said study author Irina Macsinga, associate professor in the psychology department at the West University of Timișoara in Romania.

Breaks during the workday are often seen as the worker being lazy or unproductive, which can make people feel guilty for taking them, Macsinga said. The goal of her report was to prove that short breaks are valuable for employees and organisations alike.

The studies looked at how breaks of 10 minutes or less impacted either students in a laboratory setting or employees in a workplace setting, and originated from the United States, Netherlands, China, Austria, Germany, Australia, Brazil, and Japan.

Microbreaks appeared to only positively affect workers doing certain kinds of tasks, such as routine or creative work.

Conversely, cognitively demanding tasks, work that requires a high level and quantity of brain power, did not show significant performance improvement with microbreaks. For people in these situations, a short break could replenish vigour, but not fully replenish the mental resources needed to complete the task.

The analysis also showed that recovery activities that were unrelated to the job showed higher levels of emotional improvement compared with work-related breaks, according to CNN.

This article was first published on HRM Asia

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