“To maintain or improve wellbeing and performance, employees need work breaks to recover from work,” says researcher Zhanna Lyubykh, assistant professor of management and organization studies at the Beedie School of Business, and one of the authors of the Role of work breaks in wellbeing and performance: A systematic review and future research agenda report, based on a systematic review of 83 studies.
“Organizations can help by introducing unstructured break periods that allow employees to take breaks as needed,” says Lyubykh. “Studies show that employees who can choose when they take their breaks experience less stress compared to workplaces that have an overly rigid work break schedule.”
What works best
But the length of time or frequency of breaks appears to matter less compared to how employees spend their time while on break.
For example, engaging in physical exercise during a work break may lead to increased wellbeing, especially for knowledge workers. Also, taking a nap can improve task performance and physical wellbeing, found the study.