It is impossible for anyone to work constantly. Even your hardest workers and most dedicated employees need periodic breaks to be productive and healthy. As a business leader, you want to ensure that your employees are working in an environment that best suits their skills and productivity. This includes giving employees the flexibility to take breaks that best suit their needs. Here are ways to give breaks to employees in the best way possible:
Ask Employees What They Need
Even if your industry requires employees to be engaged in work during certain hours of the day (for example, a call center needs to have employees answering phones during business hours), you still may be able to offer some flexibility to employees. Allowing employees to decide when they take their breaks can be a good option. We once heard the story of a great employee who walked into her manager’s office one day to give her notice. She was quitting because she worked in manufacturing on an assembly line, and she needed to be able to call her son at 3:00pm everyday to make sure he made it home from school safely. This was an easy fix for the manager. They allowed her to adjust the time of her break each day to coincide with the time she needed to call her son. The company was able to retain a great employee with just a small amount of flexibility.
Evaluate Employee Workloads
If you have employees working overtime consistently, it might be time for a break. Working too many hours can hurt your employees’ mental health and lead to burnout. If you notice an employee working a lot of hours, offer them a break. This could be an entire day off, or perhaps a suggestion to come in late or leave early one day. In some cases, employees avoid taking breaks because they simply have too much to do. Taking the time to ask your employees if they need help or would like a project removed from their plate can be a huge relief for them.
Set an Example
The idea that everyone needs breaks to work their best applies to you too. Take breaks when you need them and encourage others to do the same. Don’t hide the fact that you take time off from your employees. Instead, be open about your own need to take breaks to work effectively. Your employees will be more likely to take breaks if they see you doing the same and it will make your entire workforce happier and healthier.
Know the Law
While Utah does not have laws requiring breaks for employees over the age of 18, many states have laws requiring both meal breaks and rest breaks within a workday. In some states, these laws are dependent on hours worked or the industry. Some required breaks must be paid while others do not. Make sure you understand the break requirements in the states where you have employees to stay in compliance.
Taking periodic breaks throughout the workday and time off occasionally can help everyone perform at their best.