The business world faces a crisis of engagement that’s given us everything from “The Great Resignation” to “Quiet Quitting.” These signals of a discontent workforce cause businesses across the world billions of dollars in employee turnover and lost productivity.
Global surveys find that employee engagement is dropping and can cost companies up to $3,400 for every $10,000 in salary — per employee.
This is prompting a search for a solution to this widespread issue, with companies investing in everything from HR consultants to enterprise experience platforms.
But they’re overlooking the most essential engagement solution out there:
Taking a break.
Breaks: The Engagement Solution Everyone is Overlooking
The mental benefits of breaks has been a topic of interest for decades in the psychological community. There’s a host of data outlining how breaks improve our daily work experience, including:
- Improvements in focus, retention, and cognitive processing
- Increased capacity to learn new topics
- Reduced incidence of mental and physical health issues
- Increased feelings of happiness and satisfaction
- Elevated level of engagement towards work, peers, and the workplace
Breaks don’t have to be long. Even a short 7-minute break is proven to yield benefits.
So, why are so few employers investing in the power of breaks?
Whether it’s a lack of awareness or a belief in more comprehensive solutions, it’s the employees who ultimately suffer when companies don’t take breaks seriously.
Now we’re going to unpack the underappreciated workday break to illustrate just how important they are to the wellbeing of your workforce.
Not All Breaks are Created Equal
Some breaks are better than others. Remember the smoke breaks that were so popular in previous generations? Yes, it enabled folks to step away from their work for a few minutes, but it also took a toll on their health—and the company’s healthcare costs.
The kind of break your employees take will greatly impact the outcomes we listed above. Here are some break types that can help boost employee engagement in a healthy way:
Breaks for Wellness
We’re more sedentary than any other time in history, so taking a few minutes to move your body throughout the day is very important.
Preliminary studies on “micromovement” breaks reveal that people who make a concerted effort to move throughout their workday have better health and emotional outcomes than those who do not.
Giving your team the tools they need to take enjoyable, movement-based breaks is an easy way to improve engagement, productivity, and overall health.
Breaks to Socialize
The benefits of strong social connections in the workplace are well documented, with research showing that these bonds offer a number of health benefits:
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Assist in maintaining a healthy BMI
- Reduce symptoms of depression
But social breaks are also important for reducing feelings of isolation and improving engagement. Taking a break to socialize with teammates and peers is proven to increase their levels of engagement, so encourage team members to connect during their breaks to build camaraderie.
Remember: employees who break together stay together.
Breaks for Nature
Getting outside and taking in some nature during a break is another great way for employees to recharge and reset, and the science backs it up.
A study conducted by the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that college students who took a 40-second study break to view a roof covered in greenery performed better on cognitive functioning tests than those who viewed a normal concrete roof.
So, whether it’s stepping outside to get some fresh air or taking a quick stroll through the park, reminding employees about the benefits of “touching grass” can have a major positive impact on their engagement.
Breaks to Disconnect
Encourage breaks that are, in fact, breaks. Taking a break to answer emails and texts or make a call won’t feel like a break because it’s really just another form of “working.” The same goes for doing chores and running errands.
Taking time to unplug from your smartphone, computer, and any other electronic devices benefits your employees in many ways:
- Increased awareness of the present moment
- Deeper social connections with coworkers
- Improvements in focus and knowledge retention
- Reduced feelings of stress
Screentime is, for better or worse, a daily necessity for most people. That said, you can still use this technology to prompt those oh-so-important breaks throughout the workday.
Break Technology Makes it Easy
Luckily, you don’t need to micromanage every aspect of your team’s day or become a certified yoga instructor to improve engagement levels in your company. All you need is the right system.
Considering that the effects of low engagement can eat up nearly 35% of an employee’s salary, investing in systems that stem disengagement can have a tangible impact on your company’s bottom line.
In recent years, wellness tech has come a long way, and tools like Bright Breaks makes it simple to implement and support breaks. The platform helps you:
- Track team progress through a dashboard
- Automate the calendar scheduling process
- Send out invitations for group breaks
Clearly, structured breaks can have a major impact on both employee experience and company performance overall.