taking breaks

Taking Breaks at Work

Over the years, studies have shown that taking frequent breaks at the workplace can boost employees’ performance, energy, and focus during a workday. However, this is easier said than done, especially when there is a high workload, tight deadlines, or stigma around breaks. Some employees can always be absorbed in work, but that doesn’t mean they’re “the good worker” or highly productive. It’s time for businesses and HR professionals to give breaks at work a new perspective.

For this reason, we shall look into the different benefits of breaks, effective ways of taking breaks, and signs that show one needs to take breaks at work.  

Why is it Important to Take Breaks at Work? 

Taking breaks at work is a no-brainer for employees and their employers: it’s a win-win. In fact, if done well, it does more good than harm to employees’ well-being and productivity, ultimately impacting a business’s results positively, from the organizational culture and employee retention to revenue. 

Here are the benefits of having regular breaks in the workplace:

  • Enhanced focus and concentration

Working for an extended period without taking breaks can easily drain an employee’s focus/ concentration. However, taking regular breaks can help them sustain focus and concentration on assigned tasks over time.  

  • Improved productivity 

Getting things done is good, but doing them well is the ultimate goal. Taking breaks can significantly help employees recharge, maintain focus and be more efficient in their work. As a result, their overall performance will tend to improve. 

  • It helps lower stress and anxiety 

Working long hours without rest can easily increase stress levels and burnout. One of the most remarkable ways to reduce stress or anxiety at work is by taking regular breaks. 

  • Boosts clear thinking, which is essential for creative solutions 

Complex problems require one to think hard; sometimes, one could be tempted to keep working on a task until they find a solution. However, taking breaks in such situations could lead to thinking clearly and finding creative solutions.

  • Prevents decision fatigue 

Working for a prolonged period can leave one’s mind overwhelmed or unable to concentrate properly, deterring them from making good decisions. However, taking breaks is quite essential in helping recharge physical and mental energy, thus allowing one to make better and sound decisions. 

  • Increase job satisfaction 

Statistics show that employees who take regular breaks tend to be happier at work. This is because breaks help them lower stress, regain energy, and enhance overall well-being. 


What are the Signs that You Need to Take a Break? 

There is no specific time to take a break at work: people respond to stress and fatigue differently. However, there are common signs to tell whether you take a break at work. They include: 

  1. Having a low mood or feeling unmotivated 
  2. Poor performance at work
  3. Hard time concentrating on anything 
  4. Lack of energy 
  5. Finding it hard to focus on tasks 
  6. Working too much on a single task
  7. Making careless mistakes frequently 
  8. Feeling restless or fuzzy-headed 
  9. Unable to connect with coworkers 
  10. Experiencing physical symptoms  such as headaches while working 


What are the Most Productive Ways to Take Breaks at Work? 

One can take different types of breaks at work, from minutes-long breaks to several days’ breaks like holidays, leave days, and vacations. Here are ways to take breaks more productively: 

  • Get outside your work desk

Spending a few minutes outside in the sun and fresh air can impact your mood levels and reduce anxiety, making you happier. Besides, this approach can help one cultivate their creativity. 

  • Call a loved one or a friend 

Calling a loved one or a friend and wanting to know about their day can make you feel at ease and relieved. 

  • Exercise

Suppose you have a long break of about an hour or more; you can opt to exercise, especially when you have a long day of work. Exercise has a lot of benefits, from boosting your energy levels and reducing stress to sharpening your focus. 

Exercise can be as simple as stretching, office workouts, walking, doing yoga, or going to the gym.

  • Take a healthy snack

Taking a healthy snack during breaks is one of the best ways to refuel the body and mind. Above all, it also helps enhance concentration. 

  • Have a chat with peers

Socializing with coworkers is one way to help you take breaks at work. Besides improving productivity, it enhances employee engagement and relationships with coworkers. 

  • Take a nap

Having some nap time at work can help boost one’s attention, memory and overall performance after resuming tasks. 


How to Help/Motivate Employees to Take Better Breaks at Work

As outlined earlier, employees will likely skip breaks for different reasons, even when allowed in their workplaces. 

  • Schedule dedicated breaks 

Implementing scheduled breaks within employees’ work schedules may help them realize the organization they work for cares about them and that taking breaks is as important as their tasks. However, you should be careful not to offer rigid breaks; prioritize flexibility.

  • Create spaces for breaks 

Consider setting up a relaxing environment that is strictly dedicated to taking breaks. For instance, some spaces should be quiet and enhanced with dim lighting. Another area can have speakers for loud music, while some rooms can be dedicated to exercises or snacks. More importantly, such spaces should have more ergonomic chairs, benches, couches, and tables to enhance the comfort of employees when relaxing. 

  • Enlighten employees on the importance of taking breaks 

Employees should often be enlightened on the benefits of taking breaks at work. As time passes and employees embrace breaks, it will become part of the organizational culture. 

  • Leaders and managers should lead by example 

To eliminate the stigma around breaks at work, leaders should prioritize breaks to encourage employees to do the same. In brief, when leaders and managers take breaks, it’s more likely to signal to those under them that taking breaks is acceptable.  


Final Thought 

Taking breaks at work is necessary for employees who want to enhance their well-being and productivity. Breaks also contribute to employees’ job satisfaction. Therefore, businesses and their leaders should implement ways to motivate employees to take work breaks. 

There are different effective ways employees can take breaks at work, from exercising and interacting with counterparts to taking naps. 



  1. https://www.nivati.com/blog/benefits-of-taking-breaks-at-work#:~:text=Brief%20mental%20breaks%20will%20help,stress%2C%20and%20better%20mental%20health.
  2. https://zapier.com/blog/better-breaks/
  3. https://www.verywellmind.com/why-you-should-take-a-break-3144576
  4. https://workplace.msu.edu/breaks-during-the-workday/#:~:text=Taking%20a%20break%20from%20work,mental%20health%20and%20well%2Dbeing.
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