There is a mountain of evidence that taking frequent breaks throughout the day can help boost productivity and yet in spite of that, generally the only employees that tend to take regular breaks are those that smoke. While there are a number of ways that taking a break can be good for your health, sadly, about the only reason that employees will take a break is to do something that is decidedly unhealthy. It is actually in an employer’s best interest to encourage employees to take breaks. Getting employees to take breaks, however, involves more than just telling them they can. You have to actually create a “break-taking culture.” Here are 5 ways to encourage your employees to take better breaks.

1. Take breaks yourself

If you want the employee’s and staff to take breaks, the best way to make it happen is by making sure the bosses are taking breaks. If the bosses are taking breaks and getting away from everything whether that be SEO or website design that they are working on, it will actually cause resentment among the staff and employees if they are not able to. Make sure, however, that you aren’t asking people to take breaks and then taxing them in some way for doing do. If they miss an important call because they are on a break or miss some other important deadline, you can’t verbally rebuke them for doing so and then expect them to continue taking breaks.

2. Create organized breaks

While the best breaks for employees are likely to be those in which the employee does what is refreshing to them, getting employees to take breaks is better than not taking them at all. Scheduling activities during the day is a great way to get employees to take breaks. You can schedule a short walk around the building, a qigong class or even do a short meditation.

3. Create a break room that is actually conducive to taking breaks

It’s one thing to encourage employees to take breaks, it’s another thing to provide them a place to do it. Most employee break rooms are rather spartan affairs that offer little more than some tables, chairs and a kitchenette. If you want employees to actually take breaks, consider installing a pool or ping-pong table or some other type of leisure activity. Once again, just installing it is not enough. If you aren’t going to lead the charge in actually using it, it will probably just sit unused.

4. Incentivize break taking

Remember that you are not just trying to get employees to take breaks, but also to take healthy breaks. Incentivizing breaks is a great way to actually encourage employees to do something healthy on their break. Whether it’s holding a contest to see who can walk the most cumulative steps while on a break during the week or offering a small gift card for the team that creates the most healthy break activity, providing incentive to take breaks will go a long way towards ensuring employees are taking them.

5. Make break time fun

They say that everything we need to know about life we learned in kindergarten. While that may not actually be true of anything, what school-aged child doesn’t love recess? If you really want to encourage employees to take breaks, the more those breaks resemble recess, the more likely they are to take them. You can make breaks fun by hosting a 15-minute dance party, a limbo contest or even taking everyone outside to play in the snow. You might be surprised at how much your most buttoned-down employees suddenly cut loose when there is fun to be had and everyone else is having it.

It is a sad fact of life that smokers will always find a way to take a break while few other employees will. In fact, there might be a number of smokers who started smoking in the first place because smokers seem to be the only ones that get frequent breaks at work without getting hassled for it. Employees who smoke can cost employers up to $6,000 a year, so maybe it’s time to stop taxing the employees who don’t smoke and encourage them to take “health breaks” instead.

by: Mikkie Mills