If you’d like to boost employees’ productivity and job performance, ensure they are regularly taking breaks at work – they are essential for them staying healthy, happy, creative, and focused at work. However, a large proportion of workers don’t take enough breaks during their working day, and many even work through lunch.

We’re perhaps all guilty of pushing through to get a big project finished or to cram in a number of tasks so we can finish on time. But the brain needs periodic breaks. When employees work on a task for a long time, performance begins to suffer. Taking breaks at work allow workers to come up with creative solutions for problems, appreciate other people’s thinking, facilitate learning and may boost performance.


Taking breaks at work = enhanced productivity

In a recent study, students who took a break while studying performed better on a test the following day than those students who studied without a break. An additional another study found that students who were allowed to take a break every hour during tests scored better than when they were only allowed to take a break every two hours. See more details on the studies here and here.

It’s a similar situation when it comes to taking breaks at work. When the Draugiem Group, a collection of companies in Latvia, tracked employees’ productivity, it found the most productive employees took the most breaks. Indeed, high performers took a 17-minute break for every 52 minutes they worked.

As well as providing the above performance benefits, breaks also provide an opportunity for workers to fuel their bodies and brains. Sadly though many workers don’t eat healthy lunches and many professionals typically eat at their desks. Again, studies indicate that eating well and regularly during the working day has business benefits.

When San Pedro Diseños, a textile company in Guatemala City, offered workers breakfast and lunch, production jumped 70% and their annual earnings went up 20%. In a US study, physicians, who often skip breakfast and lunch, were provided with healthy meals as part of a wellness program. The doctors reported they were less irritable with patients and more alert following the introduction of such meals. Read more on the studies here and here.