Breaks are important to your employees, but those breaks have an effect on your business.
Alice has been helping customers for nearly four hours straight. She gets into an argument with a customer. That argument escalates quickly and a supervisor then gets involved. Things are deescalated, the customer leaves angry, and Alice gets a tongue lashing from her supervisor.
The situation described above has been played out many times in many businesses. Ask yourself this question:
Who's at fault for the above situation?
Everyone will have his or her answer based on their own personal experiences and practices. My answer is simple; it is the supervisor's fault. People are human and they need to be recognized as such. Alice should have not been helping customers for nearly four hours without a break. Despise all of the training provided, it was the fault of the supervisor for not treating Alice as a human that lead to this situation.
Let's take a moment and see how employee breaks effect the business and the employees:
Effects of Breaks on Business
Employees are only productive when they are working. When employees are productive, business is able to get done. When an employee is on break, they are not being productive, but they are still getting paid (outside of a unpaid lunch break).
Effects of Breaks on Employees
When an employee goes on break, they are able to "wind down" and decompress. They take a few minutes to relax and socialize, read, get some refreshment, or step away. This helps employees feel rejuvenated and refreshed. Breaks are just as much mental as they are physical.
State laws vary with this issue. For example, one State says that an employer must give its employee a 10 minute break every four hours and a 30 minute lunch break if working more than six hours. Typical employment law does not take into account the various industries, the type of work being done, and the mental/physical stress on employees.
- Businesses want employees to be highly productive for the maximum time possible.
- Most employees want to be highly productive and do quality work. If a business has employees that don't meet this criteria, then they should find ones who do.
- Employees are humans and humans need time to re-energize, refocus, regroup, and refresh.
- Employees who are given shorter periods of time to work between breaks are typically more productive, effective, energized, and focused. They tend to be highly productive.
- Giving employees the opportunity to be highly productive and appreciating them as humans, will improve morale and decrease turnover. This saves the business money.
In order for businesses to achieve a high level of productivity from its employees and for employees to produce at a high level with high quality work, here is my recommendation:
- Employees get a 10 minute break every 2 hours
- Employees who work 8 hours should get a 30 minute unpaid lunch break every four hours
- Employees who work six hours get one 10 minute break after two hours worked and another 20 minute food break after their next two hours
You should always check with local state laws before creating a break policy. In addition, some flexibility should be considered based on industry and type of work.
If a business treats their employees well, then it is more likely that those employees will treat the customers well!