More than a quarter of workers don’t take a break other than lunch, according to a recent survey of office workers and managers released by Staples, with roughly 20 percent of respondents citing guilt as the reason they don’t step away from their workspaces.

The survey also shows that two-thirds of employees spend more than eight hours a day at work.

“An alarming trend that’s plaguing workers is job-related stress, which costs companies hundreds of billions of dollars each year,” John Trougakos, Associate Professor of Management at the University of Toronto, said in the statement about the survey from the office supply retailer. “These costs can be reduced with regular work breaks, while improving employee effectiveness, satisfaction, and reducing strain and fatigue,” Trougakos said.

“Disconnecting from work can do wonders for people’s energy and mindset,” he said.

The survey shows that both employers and employees acknowledge the importance of breaks. Eighty-six percent of workers surveyed said taking a break would make them more productive, and 90 percent of employers said they encourage breaks.

But the employers need to back that up by providing a well-stocked breakroom that encourages employees to step away and not feel tied to their work, said Tom Heisroth, Senior Vice President, Commercial and Enterprise Sales, Staples Advantage, unsurprisingly suggesting that employers fill their breakrooms with items available at Staples—beverages, snacks and comfortable furniture.

The survey also found that 41 percent of employees feel burned out from working longer days, and 55 percent don’t feel they can leave their desk to take a break.

In addition, respondents said regular breaks would improve work and personal happiness (59 percent and 43 percent respectively) and health (37 percent).

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said a well-stocked, comfortable breakroom would encourage breaks, and 76 percent said such breakrooms would allow them to unwind and relieve stress.

Staples also offers the following “fun facts” from the survey in a question-and-answer slideshow format:

  • Healthy Snacks vs. Sweets? Employees are looking for healthy snack options such as nuts, protein and granola bars to be added to the breakroom (57 percent), as compared to chips, cookies or candy (10 percent).
  • Bringing snacks from home? You’re not alone. 86 percent of offices do not supply snacks to employees.
  • Where Is the Coffee? Thirty percent of employees indicated that their offices do not supply coffee; meanwhile, 45 percent of employees take up to 40 minutes to leave the office for coffee.
  • How Would You Use Your Break? 84 percent of employees would use the time to eat lunch, while 57 percent would run errands, 20 percent would exercise and 24 percent would socialize with co-workers.

The survey also found that 25 percent of respondents don’t disconnect from work-related technology when taking regular breaks.

Professor Trougakos said 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, he said.

The professor offered these additional suggestions for companies and employees to keep in mind regarding work breaks:

  • Maintain a break-encouraging workplace culture: This helps reduce employee guilt from taking necessary breaks and makes breaks more effective. Ultimately, this will improve worker well-being and productivity.
  • The power of positivity: Employees should do something during breaks to generate positive feelings, since these emotions are energizing, improve creativity, and can increase productivity.
About the Survey

Staples conducted an online survey of more than 200 office workers at organizations of all sizes across the United States and Canada. The survey, conducted in March 2014, asked a series of questions about people’s work habits, taking breaks and office breakrooms.


Source: Staples