Work breaks help productivity

Productivity is a hot topic in the business world. We measure it, track it, and think of ways to get more of it. And if it doesn’t live up to our expectations, then our employees must not be working hard enough. 

But productivity isn’t just about hard work. Attending to your workers’ basic human needs is a win-win for everyone: strategic breaks are shown to improve decision making, focus, creativity, and ultimately the profitability of your company. 

Your employees need regular breaks, and it’s your job as their leader to make sure they take them in a way that doesn’t negatively affect your business or your employees’ quality of life. 

But when dealing with so many personality types – the ambitious overachiever, the slacker, the guy who doesn’t know how to use the Check-In/Check-Out functions properly – how do you ensure everyone gets treated fairly?

Let’s look at what types of breaks there are, what’s actually legal, and how you can best manage your employees’ breaks.

The main types of breaks you can use

Before setting up any kind of break, you need to make sure your plan aligns with your country’s laws and regulations. For example, US federal law doesn’t mandate any breaks during work hours, but individual states have their own regulations, like taking a 30-minute unpaid meal break if you’re working more than five hours. 

Breaks can range from 5 to 30 minutes, and they can be paid or unpaid. Your employee can take breaks for meal purposes or to rest from intense intellectual or physical work. Let’s talk about how you can track these breaks inside our Time Tracker.

Automatic break time

An automatic break is a break that managers can insert into the worker’s schedule at a specified time, according to the existing break time rules. The break time gets automatically deducted from user’s worked hours, regardless of what they chose to do with their time.

Automatic breaks are usually an unpaid time slot that’s reserved for meals. But since we’re not robots and need some flexibility in our lives, these types of breaks can cause trouble. 

Your employee might not understand this concept at first and clock out for an additional break, which could lead to misunderstandings and additional deducted time. Or certain managers could abuse their authority and make their employees work during a break time that’s rightfully theirs.

Manual break time

Another way you could approach breaks when tracking your employee’s work hours is by setting up a time interval that your employee can use as a break.

This works best for flexible jobs where strict schedules can’t be enforced – sales, customer service, etc.

So how does manual break monitoring work?

If your employee clocks out and back in within the amount of time you’ve allotted for breaks, then his break time is paid. If the break time is exceeded, those minutes get accounted as unpaid. 

You can find more information on using our software’s Check In/Out function in this article.

Of course, manual breaks work best if clear rules are set in place. So let’s look at some ways you can set clear ground rules for your workers.

How to optimize work breaks for employees

Project management is tricky – you’re dealing with deadlines, demotivated workers, and catering to your employee’s needs. So how do you increase productivity by optimizing breaks and making sure that your employees make the most out of those breaks?

Create rules and communicate them well

  • Do your employees know that their lunch break is automatically deducted from their schedule, and are they aware of the time they need to go on break?
  • Do your employees need to clock out for bathroom and smoking breaks, and how far can they go from the building?
  • Will your employees get paid if they work during their breaks instead of taking time off?

Time tracking your employee’s activity should be based on reality, and managers have the responsibility to oversee how workers spend their time – whether they’re working too much or too little.

Experiment with break length and time

Imagine a restaurant employee taking a 20-minute break during the busiest time of the evening. That would certainly hurt your business’s productivity and your customer satisfaction. 

Analyze which parts of the schedule are slowest in terms of customers, and set most of the breaks at that time. You could also take a look at your employees’ task management and see where most of the work happens and where productivity starts to dip. This could also offer you an idea of when short breaks are most effective.

Listen to feedback

You may be creating and enforcing the rules, but your employees aren’t machines. It’s always in your best interest to listen to how your breaks – or lack of them – may influence your employees’ motivation and productivity.

Time tracking is essential to all parts of a business, including breaks. Our Time Tracker’s multiple features, including setting automatic breaks and using the Check In/ Out function to allow for manual work breaks will give you clarity on how much time your employee is spending on rest and rejuvenation.

As you use time tracking over a time period, you will be able to analyze your employees time entries and breaks. You will see that allowing breaks and using time tracking to identify the optimal time for breaks is good both for your business and for your employees. 

Photo Credit: Helena Lopes on Unsplash

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