Industrial Engineering

Give Yourself a Better Break

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INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – VOLUME 47, NUMBER 11

In midmorning, do something you enjoy
Two Baylor University management professors found that mid-morning is the optimal break time, and people who take “better breaks” experience better health and increased job satisfaction.

Emily Hunter and Cindy Wu asked 95 employees to document each work break they took and the circumstances of those breaks during a five-day workweek. The respondents took an average of two breaks per person per day. The most beneficial time to take a break was midmorning. The best thing to do was something the employee enjoys – whether work-related or not.

“We found that when more hours had elapsed since the beginning of the work shift, fewer resources and more symptoms of poor health were reported after a break. Therefore, breaks later in the day seem to be less effective,” according to “Give Me a Better Break: Choosing Workday Break Activities to Maximize Resource Recovery” in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The study couldn’t pinpoint the ideal length for breaks but found that more short breaks were associated with higher resources, suggesting that employees should be encouraged to take more frequent short breaks to facilitate recovery.