Have you instilled a work hard, play hard mentality in your team or organization? If you’ve baked this into your culture, intentionally or not, we encourage you to check in on how it’s effecting your employees. Too often, work hard, play hard cultures forget to play hard or at all. The culture becomes just work hard. This mentality isn’t effective or healthy. When employees skip breaks productivity, mental well-being, and overall performance suffer. This chronic stress leads to burnout before it hits your bottom line.
Why does this happen?
It’s all in your head—your brain’s prefrontal cortex keeps you focused on goals and handles logical thinking, executive functioning, and impulse control. Like any muscle, when overworked your prefrontal cortex’s performance drops. It becomes harder to think clearly, make decisions, and focus.
What can I do?
We challenge you to take a break! And make sure your employees know they should take breaks, too. A study of call center staff who took regular breaks revealed that enthusiasm and commitment increased, measurably impacting sales. Strategic breaks give the brain a rest and allow employees to return to tasks with renewed energy, more motivation, and a fresh perspective. Breaks prevent decision fatigue, which can lead to simplistic decision-making and procrastination. Taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes mental resources, and improves creativity. Breaks also improve learning, as the brain reviews and ingrains information while resting.
No, really, what do I need to do to make this happen?
Employees won’t take a break unless you make them feel safe doing so. Show them it’s okay to rest by doing so yourself and create an environment and culture that encourages breaks:
- Model the behavior. Take breaks throughout the day and get up for lunch. Doing this yourself gives employees permission to do the same. Say the words: “I had an idea at lunch!” “I’m a bit drained from meetings all morning. I’m taking a quick walk. Want to come?”
- Make physical space. If your team or organization is back to the office, freshen up the break room to help employees feel comfortable.
- Talk about it. Tell employees why they need to take breaks. Highlight the benefits and tell them you’re taking breaks, too.
- Incentivize it. Find ways to reward employees for taking breaks.
What do I do with this break?
- Move your body. Getting up from your chair combats the negative health effects from sitting.
- Move your location. Leaving your space helps your brain rest and switch gears.
- Eat lunch. Employees who take a lunch break are more likely to be satisfied with their job.
- Sleep. Short naps can help you feel more alert, reduce stress, and improve cognition.
- Let your mind go. Meditation and day dreaming can relax your mind and body.
- Create. Activate your creative, visual right-brain to give your logical side a rest.