To take a break or not take a break?

As manager of a team you often feel obliged to be flexible towards your employees. How do you handle this? How do you experience breaks in your company?

It’s easy to say that taking a break is contra productive, but when you think further it might give your employees an energy boost. Letting off steam, getting a coffee or a short walk towards the printer cuts your focus during working-hours. When we are glued to our desks every day, again and again, we might forget to move in between. But moving is necessary for our health. Give your employees the tip to buy themselves an activity tracker, they will be amazed how little steps they take during a day at the office.

Taking a pause changes the monotone aspect of the day, it breaks the work rhythm and provides your employees to get back to their work with fresh air in their head. It even improves people’s health. When they get the chance to clear the head for a little minute the stress level decreases, and they will get in control again. A short walk in between, for example, let the blood (and new energy) flow through the body.

Therefore, encourage your employees to:

  • Take a short break, this improves the alertness
  • Enjoy lunch break together with the colleagues
  • Move enough during break
  • Go outside and get some fresh air when possible
  • Not eat at their desks

To avoid misuse of the situation it is a tip to write down the rules towards breaks during the working-hours in your work regulations. In that way we can avoid miscommunications. Plan an obligated break during lunch, that means that employees will not be paid during that time. If you communicate this in a proper way, employees are less willing to skip their lunch break. Also, the use of social media and online purchases are sometimes used as a break behind a computer. This shifts the concentration but doesn’t give variation in the job. They stay behind their desk in the same position. And everyone knows that it is very tempting to keep on scrolling to several online job sites, they might end up 45 minutes on the same website. Explain, in a clear way, that online shopping and social media maintenance should happen after working-hours.

As a manager it is your responsibility to follow up deadlines and encourage your team. Search for the perfect balance between focus and fun. Add ‘targets’ for your team to keep them enthusiastic. When business goes well there is time for a little relaxation. Plan every month a nice lunch break together with the team. Or let them leave a little earlier on a Friday afternoon. Inspire them to go and get a drink together after working-hours. But keep in mind, draw a clear line between fun and work, make good agreements, in that way you will maintain a bright view over your team.

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