Workers Feel Too Guilty to Take Breaks

Christine Persaud

Published: 05/07/2014 08:10:39 AM EST in Industry

Workers Feel Too Guilty to Take Breaks

A new survey by Staples finds that more than a quarter of workers don't take a break at the office other than for lunch, and one-in-five cite feeling guilty as the reason for not stepping away from the desk.

What's more, 66% of employees spend more than the typical eight hours per day at work. And 90% of both employees and employers recognize the importance of breaks, and 86% agree that doing so would make them more productive.

"An alarming trend that's plaguing workers is job-related stress, which costs companies hundreds of billions of dollars each year," says John Trougakos, Associate Professor of Management at the University of Toronto. "However, these costs can be reduced with regular work breaks, while improving employee effectiveness, satisfaction, and reducing strain and fatigue. Disconnecting from work can do wonders for people's energy and mindset."

The after-effects of overworking oneself are clear. The survey also found that 41% of employees feel burned out from working longer days, and 55% don't feel they can leave their desk to take a break. However, respondents indicated that regular breaks would improve work and personal happiness (59% and 43%, respectively) and health (37%).

"It's important that employees understand the value of taking a quality break," reinforces Tom Heisroth, Senior Vice President, Commercial and Enterprise Sales, Staples Advantage. "Disconnecting can increase their happiness, health and productivity."

A breakroom, Staples says, can help encourage employees to take regular breaks: 76% of respondents said a well-stocked and comfortable spot where they could go would help them unwind and relieve stress. (Or why not just step outside for a few minutes for some fresh air?)

More than half of respondents would appreciate having access to healthy snack options, such as nuts and granola bars (57%) compared to chips, cookies or candy (10%).
Half of respondents say they don't have a properly furnished breakroom to allow for relaxation. And 25% don't disconnect from work-related technology when taking regular breaks. Professor Trougakos says employees need to detach mentally from work to restore the energy it takes to work productively. Thinking about work doesn't relieve stress and employees won't fully recharge or maximize the usefulness of a break.

The survey was conducted online in March with more than 200 office workers at organizations of all sizes across the U.S. and Canada.

Photo by imagerymajestic;

Article Tags:  employees, breaks, regular, respondents, stress, survey, staples, workers, happiness, health, breakroom, relieve, taking, trougakos, related, office, costs, professor, disconnecting, energy,


Workers Feel Too Guilty to Take Breaks

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