Every employer wants to create the most productive working environment for their team. Over the years we’ve seen lots of initiatives being introduced – from flexible hours to free lunchtime exercise sessions. But could the solution be as simple as fifteen minutes off the job?
The island of Jersey is looking at reforming employment rights to introduce daily rest breaks, which may impact wider UK legislation. If successful, Jersey-based companies will need to offer staff 15-minutes’ rest in every six hour working period, to recharge their batteries.
Even if this policy doesn’t go through, daily rest breaks are something all employers should be considering, as they can have a transformative impact on employee performance. Here are the pros and cons of formalising downtime – with tips on how to manage scheduled breaks if you decide to try them out.
There’s been a marked shift in the way we measure employee contributions over the past decade. Instead of focussing on hours put in, we prioritise output – and well-rested employees tend to be more productive.
For staff working long shifts in particular, it’s easy for fatigue to set in. This can lead to the pace of work slowing, quality of work declining, and mistakes creeping in. Mistakes that could prove fatal in industries like transportation, manufacturing and healthcare.
Scheduling daily rest breaks ensures that your team has chance to clear their minds and recharge their batteries during the course of their working day, so they return with renewed energy and focus. It’s also a good chance for them to grab a snack and drink if they’re not able to eat on the job – for example, they’re working in a customer service role.
If team members are working from home, building in 15 minutes away from a computer screen is also beneficial. It allows employees to rest their eyes and fix their posture. You could even recommend a simple stretch routine for them to complete during this time.
In addition to helping bring their ‘A game’ every shift, well-rested employees are likely to have lower stress levels, feel less overwhelmed by their workload, and be in better physical and mental health. This will result in lower levels of sickness, taking pressure off your managers and HR personnel to fill staffing gaps at short notice.
Rest is also a basic building block of employee wellbeing, and you have a duty of care to look after your staff. If someone is feeling particularly exhausted, they can have a micro nap – so they won’t fall asleep at the wheel driving home from their shift.
We’ve talked about the clear physical and mental health benefits to regular employee breaks, as well as their positive impact on productivity. But scheduling mandatory time off during the working day can have negative consequences if it’s not managed correctly.
For example, if you don’t give employees an allocated time slot for their 15-minute break, several people could decide to step away at the same time. Quarter of an hour isn’t long to be under-staffed, but it could break health and safety regulations – with serious consequences.
Giving staff free reign to choose their break time can also stop those still working being able to get on with key tasks. They may waste precious time trying to hunt people down, or follow-up online or by phone when someone is away from their workspace.
The only way to get around these practical challenges is to stagger rest breaks, and that means putting a formal system in place for managing employees’ schedules.
Many companies think that informal systems such as verbal agreements or email communications are enough to coordinate employee breaks. But these are often ineffective.
The simplest, most effectual way to manage rest breaks is to log them through an online people management platform. This way, everyone knows when their own break is coming up, and also when their colleagues are taking a brief rest.
People management platforms tend to be thought of as shift planning tools, helping employers to set work schedules and curate teams. But they are also a highly effective way to manage events during the course of the working day.
Market-leading shift planners will have built-in task management tools, for example, to allocate responsibilities to each member of staff. And the same software can also be used to build in set times for employee breaks – from the moment you decide to trial them.
By coordinating every element of staff scheduling through one online portal, your company will provide complete visibility over who is working each shift, their key responsibilities, and when they can break. This helps to ensure a smooth running operation, while factoring-in people’s need to have fifteen minutes of well-earned rest during the course of a busy working day.
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