How to Keep Your Team Motivated: Encourage Employees to Take Breaks

As a Founder and CEO of a company one of your main responsibilities is finding and developing an effective team. Especially in the early stages of a company you ought to surround yourself with passionate, creative, motivated, hard working people who possess skills that will help the business grow and evolve over time.

Once you have built your team a leader should focus on empowering those around him/her to make independent decisions and create roles that will make your team want to stay with the company over time. One key part of any management team’s objectives is staff retention – especially when you consider how much impact a high turnover of staff can have on a business.

The first is cost – you lose any investment you made in training the staff and developing their skills, pay the same money out to train your new member of staff, and pay costs to recruit – not to mention the time it takes and the cost implications of these. You also lose a well-built team dynamic and morale – and impact on productivity levels as members of staff adjust.

There is, however, a simple way you can keep employees engaged, motivated and productive, and it involves one simple thing: encourage them to take breaks. Find out how from this research by retailer of dinner sets Oldrids & Downton.

What is expected of you

You’re expected to provide rest breaks (such as lunch breaks) to workers who are over 18, as well as daily rest (11 hours between working days) and weekly breaks (24 hours uninterrupted a week, or 48 hours each fortnight). Ideally, the break will be taken in the middle of the day, and employees should be allowed to spend their break away from their workstation.

The breaks do not need to be paid – which means preventing staff from having them has no financial benefit to your business.

Encouraging staff to take breaks is quite a unique approach

Research conducted in 2016 found that less than one third of UK workers, just 30%, take proper lunch breaks such as going outdoors for a walk, or taking a break from their desks. The survey by the National Charity Partnership of 1,700 workers also found that the remaining 70% spend their time working at their desks (24%) or browsing the internet (46%).

The reasons? Over one third of people cited ‘having too much work’, one in eight said ‘stress levels’ and one in eight s it was down to the ‘workplace culture’, whilst others said they ‘can’t be bothered’ or ‘prefer the internet to the outdoors’.

Breaks reduce stress levels

Work-related stress leads to almost 10 million lost working days a year – directly costing your business money and impacting your overall productivity. If staff taking breaks improves levels of stress, you’re likely to have happy staff, which in turn is most likely to improve staff retention

Breaks increase productivity

Lunch breaks are also known to increase productivity of workers – especially if short breaks are included alongside the main break. As the breaks cost nothing, as an employer you’ve got a lot to gain – and nothing to lose.

Breaks lead to happier workers

90% of workers who take a proper lunch break felt ‘happier and more positive’. Lunch breaks allow people to get things done, fuel up for the afternoon, in some cases take in some exercise. Even in 20 minutes they can take a stroll, up your step count and have some fresh air.

How you can encourage lunch breaks

There are a number of ways you can reduce stress and increase workers’ productivity by encouraging staff to take breaks. Here are a few:

– Lead by example. If your employees see you working through lunch, they may feel like this is expected of them too.

– Create a workplace environment that encourages employees to take breaks.

– Designate a space in your workplace – such as a kitchen or dining room – that employees can go to to get away from their desks. 

– Supply healthy snacks and providing gift cards can motivate employees to encourage a culture of healthy eating, fostering a healthier attitude toward taking breaks.

– Provide distractions from phones and screens. If you have room in your designated break space, include light reading materials (magazines and newspapers) and other forms of entertainment, so workers can relax free from screens in a dedicated environment.

– Encourage additional breaks. There are stressful moments in everyone’s jobs, so make it clear to employees that if they need to take an extra break for some fresh air, they can – and that their lunch break will be unaffected.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. She studied English Literature at Fairfield University in Connecticut whilst taking evening classes in journalism at MediaBistro in NYC. She then pursued a BA degree in Public Relations at Bournemouth University in the UK. With a background working in the PR industry in Los Angeles, Barcelona and London, Charlotte then moved on to launching Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden and has been running the online magazine for the past 10 years. She is a mother, an avid reader, runner and puts a bit too much effort into perfecting her morning brew.